North Dakota coronavirus news, April 7: Budget Section approves federal aid

North Dakota coronavirus news, April 7: Budget Section approves federal aid

From the North Dakota coronavirus news series
Coronavirus need to know

The latest North Dakota coronavirus news: federal aid, downtown parking, ag events, face masks and more.

Budget Section OKs federal aid

The Legislature’s Budget Section on Tuesday unanimously approved accepting federal funding for state agencies, mostly from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act federal economic rescue package, to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

North Dakota’s Emergency Commission, which is chaired by Gov. Doug Burgum, last week approved five requests from state agencies to accept the money. Those requests also needed legislative approval.

The money, totaling about $133.5 million, goes to support rural transit administration, K-12 education, child care grants, Medicaid and other assistance, and library technology resources.

Federal funds flow

U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, both R-N.D., on Tuesday announced more federal aid.

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded just under $3 million to community health centers in North Dakota. The money through the CARES Act is to support health care professionals and facilities.

Coal Country Community Health Center in Beulah is getting about $695,000; Northland Health Partners Community Health Center in Turtle Lake about $651,000; Family Healthcare Center in Fargo about $960,000; and Spectra Health Center in Grand Forks about $637,000. 

Downtown parking

Bismarck Police Chief Dave Draovitch says some people are taking advantage of eased parking restrictions downtown.

The police department late last month suspended enforcement of time-zone parking spaces downtown, in an effort to help businesses. Police also asked motorists to “continue to use courtesy” when parking downtown.

"Sadly, we have not received the result we were looking for," Draovitch said in a statement. "Several complaints have been received from businesses that noticed a large amount of people parking all day in one spot, which hampers their business opportunities."

Parking officers have begun putting warning tickets on vehicles that are parking in one spot all day.

"If (they) continue to see the same vehicles parked in one spot all day, I will have no choice but to reinstitute enforcement of time-zone parking," Draovitch said.

Sanford mask requirement 

Sanford Health and The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society are now requiring caregivers and providers to wear surgical face masks while in clinic and care settings.

“Our knowledge regarding COVID-19 is rapidly expanding. This allows us the opportunity to update personal protective equipment policies to incorporate the best evidence,” Sanford Health Chief Medical Officer Allison Suttle said. “This proactive action will help minimize virus transmission from people who may carry COVID-19 but aren’t showing symptoms.”

The new requirements apply to Sanford Health providers working in inpatient units, ambulatory clinics and procedural areas and all Good Samaritan Society caregivers who work in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living, home health and hospice.

Providers caring for presumed or known positive COVID-19 patients will continue to wear personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators.

Sanford Health and the Good Samaritan Society have an adequate stock of surgical masks, but they’re following conservation measures to ensure a long-term supply.

Nonessential ag events

The state Agriculture Department has clarified guidance regarding agriculture-related activities and events that are not essential to producing food and feed.

The state earlier urged "careful consideration" of those events.

“We understood there was some confusion regarding our prior guidance on ag activities and events that are nonessential,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “Events such as livestock auction markets and ag auction sales are considered essential and can operate with certain precautions to mitigate risk. Events such as youth livestock sales, animal shows and other activities should either be canceled or moved to a date in the future and reassessed at that time.”

Goehring said sales and events that are able to be done with web-based features and viewed online without in-person attendance can continue.

“The people who are organizing the sale or event and need to be at the site in person should be limited to those that are essential and take all precautions to protect themselves and others,” he said.

Children's clinic hours

The Sanford Children's North Clinic in Bismarck has temporarily altered its hours to allow time for employees to do a daily thorough cleaning of the facility. 

The hours are now:

  • 8 a.m. to noon: well child visits only
  • Noon to 5 p.m.: pediatric walk-in clinic and acute visits only
  • 5-7 p.m.: clinic is closed for thorough cleaning

The clinic at 765 W. Interstate Ave. is open Monday through Friday and closed on weekends.

Prairie Public Town Halls

Prairie Public is hosting a series of interactive Town Halls during its 3 p.m. Central time Main Street radio show to gather listener questions about the coronavirus outbreak and provide answers from experts.

Topics in the series include health, economics and business, the arts, education and other aspects of life being affected by the pandemic.

The Town Halls air live on Prairie Public’s radio network. Listeners can call with questions during the show to 888-755-6377, or contribute questions and stories anytime to 701-428-1686 or mainstreet@prairiepublic.org.

Guests are to include State Schools Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on Wednesday, University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University experts on April 13, and on April 14, Kim Konikow with the North Dakota Council on the Arts and Brenna Gerhardt with Humanities North Dakota.

The Interactive Town Hall series is sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Caring Foundation.

Fargo-based Prairie Public Broadcasting can be heard on FM stations 90.5 in Bismarck, 89.9 in Dickinson, and 88.7 and 89.5 in Williston. 

North Dakota virus numbers

North Dakota has 237 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 39 in Burleigh County and 18 in Morton County. There have been 82 recoveries and four deaths. A total of 33 people have been hospitalized; 18 remain hospitalized. State and private labs have conducted 7,703 tests, with 7,466 coming back negative.

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