The latest North Dakota coronavirus news: paddlefish, federal aid, ag events, public meetings and more.
Paddlefish snagging season canceled
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is canceling the upcoming paddlefish snagging season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There is still the possibility of a one-week snag-and-release season May 15-21, which is two weeks later than the normal opening day.
Fisheries Chief Greg Power said the safety of snaggers, caviar processors and data collection staff are a major concern.
“Paddlefish snaggers concentrate in large numbers in a small area, and often participate in snagging while shoulder to shoulder,” Power said. “There is no realistic way to maintain proper separation.”
Game and Fish is allowing for the possibility of a one-week snag-and-release season, Power said, because data suggests considerably fewer snaggers will participate.
“The snag-and-release season is considered acceptable as a lower-risk activity for those avid snaggers who just want some time outdoors, usually by themselves,” he said.
The Northstar Caviar fish cleaning, egg processing and boat shuttle operation will not be open this year.
Extra SNAP benefits
Qualifying households in North Dakota will receive extra assistance for March and April from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
North Dakota’s Department of Human Services announced the extra benefits on Friday. They come from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Only households that did not receive the full SNAP benefit in March and April due to earned income are eligible.
The extra SNAP assistance for March is $2.4 million, to be issued to eligible households on April 9. The extra April assistance will be available on April 21. The maximum benefit is $355 for a two-person household and $509 for a three-person household.
A brochure describing the program and listing all maximum SNAP benefit amounts by household size is available online at www.nd.gov/dhs/info/pubs/docs/dn-1375.pdf.
Paycheck Protection Program
The U.S. Small Business Administration on Friday launched the Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion emergency loan program created under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act economic rescue package recently approved by Congress and signed by the president.
The program provides forgivable loans up to $10 million to small businesses left financially distressed by the coronavirus pandemic. The loans have a fixed 1% interest rate and maturity of two years.
“These loans will bring immediate economic relief and eight weeks of financial certainty to millions of small businesses and their employees,” SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said.
The loans will be administered at the local level by a national network of banks and credit unions.
“We are excited to begin this phase of the CARES Act and are working diligently with North Dakota lenders to provide this support to small businesses,” SBA North Dakota District Director Al Haut said.
More information can be found at: www.SBA.gov/Coronavirus.
Federal aid flows
More federal aid is flowing into North Dakota to help pay for the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Federal Transit Administration has awarded $34 million to the state of North Dakota, according to U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, both R-N.D. The money is through the CARES Act.
The money announced Friday "will help ensure that our state’s transportation systems are prepared and able to respond,” Hoeven said in a statement.
The state is getting about $18 million, Fargo about $8 million, Bismarck $3.7 million and Grand Forks $3.4 million. Tribes also are getting grants: Standing Rock, $426,000; Spirit Lake, $369,000; and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, $191,000.
Morton County meetings
Morton County is offering a virtual option through GoToMeeting for public attendance and participation at county commission and other board meetings.
The goal is to follow federal advice to minimize large public gatherings. The first meeting to utilize the method will be the county commission meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
To join from computer, tablet or smartphone, go to https://www.gotomeet.me/MortonCounty. People also can dial in, at 1 (669) 224-3412, access code 370-200-173. The access code will be different for each meeting.
To get the app, go to https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/370200173.
More information can be found by clicking on "virtual meetings" under "quick links" on the county website, at: https://www.mortonnd.org/.
Burleigh County meetings
Burleigh County Auditor/Treasurer Allan Vietmeier said Monday's county commission meeting will take place, but only 10 people will be allowed on site to prevent a large gathering.
People with business to conduct should email email@example.com.
Options for watching and listening to the meeting include: government access (Midcontinent) cable channels 2 and 602 HD; https://tinyurl.com/FreeTV-2; channels also are streaming on Roku or Apple TV; radio access 102.5 FM; RadioAccess.org
The meeting also can be streamed from the link found on the Burleigh County website at: www.burleighco.com.
Nonessential ag events
The state Agriculture Department is urging "careful consideration" when it comes to agriculture-related activities and events that are not essential to producing food and feed.
Agriculture and food have been deemed essential industries by the Department of Homeland Security. However, “We’ve been getting some reports of discretionary activities continuing as usual in our communities,” state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said.
“As previously mentioned, we understand that activities that are essential to the food and agriculture workforce need to continue with certain precautions in place to mitigate risk," he said. "But activities that are discretionary, such as youth livestock sales, animal shows and other like activities should be postponed or canceled.”
The North Dakota Department of Health recommends canceling or rescheduling events if located within an area that has community transmission of the disease or if a large number of attendees are anticipated to come from these impacted areas. Organizers should consider alternative options such as web-based, televised-only or remote attendance.
North Dakota virus numbers
North Dakota has 173 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 32 in Burleigh County and 16 in Morton County. There have been 29 hospitalizations statewide, 55 recoveries and three deaths. State and private labs have conducted 5,798 total tests, with 5,625 coming back negative.
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