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North Dakota coronavirus news, Aug. 1: State announces pandemic food aid for children

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The latest North Dakota coronavirus news: food aid, border hours and more.

Food assistance

About 46,000 North Dakota children will be receiving a new round of food assistance this summer, according to State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and Department of Human Services Executive Director Chris Jones.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program helps families whose children have been eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, and households that receive benefits under SNAP, the federal food stamp program.

Children ages 0-5 who are receiving SNAP benefits during the summer will receive an extra $391, along with $20 for each month they received SNAP benefits from September 2021 through May 2022. The money will be deposited in a lump sum to each household’s SNAP card. About 12,000 children are eligible.

School-age children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals will receive a $391 EBT benefit if they were eligible for the meals during either the 2021-22 school year or this summer. Cards will be mailed and should arrive by mid-August. About 34,000 children are eligible.

Families whose children are not eligible for free or reduced-price school meals may apply for the program through their school before Aug. 19 to become eligible. Those deemed eligible will receive the $391 benefit, in late August or early October.

Questions can be directed to 701-328-2732 or snap-pebt@nd.gov.

Border hours

North Dakota's congressional delegation has joined the call for federal officials to restore hours of operation at some ports of entry on the U.S.-Canada border to pre-pandemic levels.

Gov. Doug Burgum has pushed for restoration, saying reduced hours at several North Dakota port crossings hurt the state. But his pleas were rejected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which says longer opening hours can't be justified because of a shrinking volume of traffic at the crossings.

U.S. Sens. Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven and Rep. Kelly Armstrong, all R-N.D., recently sent a letter to Customs Commissioner Chris Magnus, asking for a return to pre-pandemic hours at the ports. The delegation said the reduced hours unnecessarily restrict cross-border activity and contribute to supply chain issues.

Magnus is a former Fargo police chief.

Testing and vaccines

A comprehensive list of free public COVID-19 testing offered in North Dakota can be found at health.nd.gov/covidtesting. That site also lists where free at-home test kits are being offered.

People can go to https://www.ndvax.orgor https://bit.ly/3N3IMxb or call 866-207-2880 to see where COVID-19 vaccine is available near them.

County-level COVID-19 risks determined by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found at https://bit.ly/3Clifrq.

Guidance and resources for businesses are at https://bit.ly/3w0DpKj.

General information is at https://www.health.nd.gov/diseases-conditions/coronavirus and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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