The latest North Dakota coronavirus news: federal aid, city declaration, county courthouses and more.
Federal aid approved
The Legislature’s Budget Section on Thursday signed off on spending $406 million in federal coronavirus aid.
The state’s Emergency Commission last week approved 12 requests from state agencies to accept the money through the federal CARES Act economic rescue package, but Budget Section approval also was required.
The largest portion of the money -- $200 million -- will go toward unemployment claims. About $69 million is dedicated to grants for businesses to spend on pandemic-related improvements. There's also a big chunk of money for plugging and cleaning up abandoned oilfield wells.
Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, said he voted against the spending because he disagrees with the process. He’s been a leading proponent for calling a special legislative session to address the pandemic recovery. Majority Republican legislative leaders say there’s no need for a special session.
The Emergency Commission and Budget Section last month approved spending $524 million in CARES Act money. North Dakota is to receive $1.25 billion through the end of the year.
Bismarck emergency extended
The Bismarck City Commission has voted to extend the city’s coronavirus-related emergency declaration, which is a necessary step to getting state and federal aid.
The initial declaration came on March 15. It’s been extended for a month twice since then. Mayor Steve Bakken earlier this month signed another extension, and commissioners on Tuesday ratified the decision.
The declaration is now in effect until July 13.
Gov. Doug Burgum and President Donald Trump also have declared emergencies due to the pandemic.
County courthouses reopening
More county courthouses around the state are reopening after being closed due to the pandemic, according to the North Dakota Supreme Court.
The courthouses in Benson and LaMoure counties will reopen to the public Wednesday. McLean County will reopen July 6, and the Cass County Courthouse that day will commence regular hours without the need for appointments.
The Burleigh County and Morton County courthouses reopened earlier this month, along with those in the counties of Adams, Barnes, Billings, Bottineau, Divide, Dunn, Eddy, Emmons, Foster, Grant, Griggs, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Kidder, McHenry, McIntosh, McKenzie, Mountrail, Oliver, Pembina, Ramsey, Sargent, Slope, Stark, Stutsman, Walsh, Ward, Wells and Williams.
North Dakota virus numbers
North Dakota has 3,393 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 217 in Burleigh County and 73 in Morton County. There have been 3,064 recoveries and 78 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 222 people have been hospitalized; 25 remain so. State and private labs have conducted tests on 99,444 people, and conducted 165,430 total tests.
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