North Dakota coronavirus news, March 30: Bismarck State College moves to virtual graduation

North Dakota coronavirus news, March 30: Bismarck State College moves to virtual graduation

From the North Dakota coronavirus news series
Coronavirus need to know

The latest North Dakota coronavirus news: BSC graduation, tribal curfew, campgrounds, gas prices, flood loans and more.

BSC virtual graduation

Bismarck State College has canceled its 2020 graduation ceremony at the Bismarck Event Center. The college instead will have a virtual commencement.

It is scheduled at 2 p.m. Friday, May 15, at bismarckstate.edu. A BSC 2020 Virtual Commencement Watch Party will be held at the same time on the BSC Facebook page, enabling students, family and friends to watch together and share congratulatory messages for graduates.

Students who have not completed their application for degree for the spring or summer semester can go to: bismarckstate.edu/applyforgraduation.

The University of Mary last week called off its spring commencement ceremony. It instead will hold a “double commencement” on April 24, 2021, to honor both this year’s and next year’s graduates.

Congressional delegation returns

North Dakota U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer appeared at Gov. Doug Burgum’s daily coronavirus briefing at the state Capitol on Monday, but U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong did not.

Armstrong told the Tribune he is self-isolating for 14 days in Dickinson after returning to the state. He said it's precautionary, “with as many people as I was around in the last 18 hours … and being on four different airplanes.”

He said he is able to accomplish his work via telephone.

“I can do that every bit as well from my garage as I can from anywhere else, probably better sometimes,” Armstrong said.

Hoeven and Cramer are not in self-quarantine upon their return to North Dakota, despite news that their colleague Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, tested positive for COVID-19.

Hoeven said the Senate physician advised him that since Hoeven had not been in close contact with Paul, to watch for symptoms and self-quarantine if any develop.

Cramer said he was practicing social distancing while in Washington, D.C., and that the nation’s capital is not one of the bigger problem areas for coronavirus. He also is following the advice of the Senate physician.

Capitol implements screening

The state Capitol and some locations of the North Dakota Department of Transportation are implementing a COVID-19 public screening process.

It will consist of both temperature scanning and screening questions, and should take only a couple of minutes. At the Capitol, the public will be routed through the west entrance, where screening resources will be located.

People with Department of Transportation appointments also will need to show their ID.

“Starting today, the public may enter these locations only if they have an appointment and if they pass the screening process,” Office of Management and Budget Director Joe Morrissette said Monday.

Burgum earlier restricted public access until April 6 at state facilities, including the Capitol.

Throughout the week, additional state facilities might begin implementing screening processes. People are reminded to call for an appointment, as not all state services are available in-person. They're also encouraged to conduct business with the state via phone, video conference or online whenever possible.

Tribe imposes curfew

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is asking all members to shelter in place "as much as possible" to help slow the spread of the coronavirus on the reservation.

Chairman Mike Faith also issued an executive order on Monday imposing a curfew for children under 18. Children 14 and younger are required to stay home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. during the school year. For children ages 15-17, the curfew is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. It is in force seven days a week.

Grasslands closes rec sites

All developed recreation sites on the Dakota Prairie Grasslands in North Dakota have been closed indefinitely.  

 In the Sheyenne Ranger District, the Hankinson Hills and Jorgen’s Hollow campgrounds are closed.

Closed in the Medora Ranger District are: Initial Rock Interpretive Site, Burning Coal Vein Campground, Buffalo Gap Campground, Whitetail Campground and Picnic Area, Coal Creek Campground, Magpie Campground, Elkhorn Campground and Wannagan Campground.

Closed in the McKenzie Ranger District are: Birnt Hills Interpretive Site, Summit Campground, Bennett Campground, Sather Lake Campground and Recreation Area and CCC Campground.

Disaster request support 

North Dakota's congressional delegation has issued a statement supporting Burgum's request for a major presidential disaster declaration.

Such a declaration by President Donald Trump would pave the way for federal aid to help North Dakota pay for its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Burgum made the request in a letter dated Friday. Hoeven, Cramer and Armstrong issued a joint statement Sunday urging Trump to quickly approve it.

Gas prices drop

Fuel prices in North Dakota continue to decline as the coronavirus pandemic persists, halting travel -- and the demand for oil -- around the world.

AAA reports that the average gasoline price statewide fell to $1.86 per gallon on Monday, with nearly 25% of stations selling gas for less than $1.75 per gallon.

North Dakota is one of 29 states with an average price under $2 per gallon, according to AAA. Statewide, 92% of stations are selling gas below the $2 mark.

Load limits update

Load restrictions are being put back on state Highway 22 from the junction of Highway 12 near Reeder to the junction of Highway 21 near New England, due to road damage, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Burgum last week lifted seasonal load limits on state highways across North Dakota to help facilitate commerce during the coronavirus outbreak. The state transportation director retained the authority to impose load limits on roads sustaining heavy damage.

Statewide seasonal load restriction information is available by calling 511 or going to www.dot.nd.gov/travel-info. Load restriction email updates are available at http://www.dot.nd.gov/roadreport/loadlimit/loadlimitinfo.asp

CDL tests update

The North Dakota Department of Transportation has updated the local telephone number to call for appointments for commercial driver's license knowledge and road tests.

Appointments can be scheduled by calling the department at 701-328-3489 or toll free at 1-855-633-6835 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

CDL services are available by appointment only. Walk-ins will not be accepted. The appointments are available only to commercial drivers and temporary agricultural workers (H-2A). People who already have an appointment scheduled will be contacted by the department with further instruction.

North Dakota virus numbers

North Dakota has 109 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 29 in Burleigh County and 14 in Morton County. There have been 19 hospitalizations statewide, 20 recoveries and three deaths. State and private labs have conducted 3,909 total tests, with 3,800 coming back negative. 

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