North Dakota coronavirus news, March 22: Transportation services change

North Dakota coronavirus news, March 22: Transportation services change

From the North Dakota coronavirus news series
Coronavirus need to know

The latest North Dakota coronavirus news: transportation services, commerce programs, farm groups, Willison State College and more.

Transportation services change

The North Dakota Department of Transportation is moving to online or mail-in services only, with employees working remotely.  

Public access will be restricted at all Driver License and Motor Vehicle facilities, effective Monday.

Many driver’s license services will be provided online, but appointments and other in-person services will not be available for Class D license renewals, REAL ID and tests for driver's permits or licenses. Driver's license suspension services will remain available through telephone or online. 

Commercial Driver License renewals, permits, knowledge tests, road tests and new licenses will be available and scheduled by appointment only starting March 30.

Motor vehicle services such as license plates and titling can be done by mailing in paperwork. Vehicle renewals can be done online, at a self-service kiosk or by mail. The state is waiving Motor Vehicle kiosk fees. In Bismarck, kiosks are at Kirkwood Mall and Stamart Travel Center.

The state has waived expiration dates for driver’s licenses and motor vehicle registrations from March 1. The state is working with law enforcement agencies in recognizing the waiver period, and the federal Transportation Security Administration has said it will allow travelers to board a plane with an expired driver’s license.  

More information can be found at: www.dot.nd.gov, or by calling 855-NDROADS (637-6237).

Commerce programs suspended

North Dakota’s Department of Commerce has suspended two programs. 

The Innovate North Dakota voucher and grant program provides resources to entrepreneurs to help turn an innovative idea into a profitable business.

“As circumstances continue to evolve, Commerce will continue to shift resources to assist businesses experiencing or forecasting impact from the recent health crisis,” said Josh Teigen, head of investments for the department.

Current participants will remain in the program and will resume where they left off once normal activity returns.

The Innovation Technology Loan Fund program also is on hold until further notice. 

The program more commonly known as LIFT supports technology advancement for North Dakota businesses through the commercialization of intellectual property. The 2019 Legislature approved the loan fund.

Blues suspends in-person services

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, the state’s largest health insurance carrier, has suspended in-person services at offices statewide.

The insurer is continuing to serve members online or by phone.

“We hope that this interruption is brief while we take these extra precautions,” President and CEO Dan Conrad said.

Williston State College changes 

Williston State College will deliver courses online for the rest of the spring semester.

Classes resume online Monday. WSC Housing will be in contact with all residents with information related to housing and dining, the retrieval of items and the move-out process.

More information can be found at: willistonstate.edu/coronavirus.

Farm groups send letter 

Thirteen North Dakota agriculture groups sent a letter to President Donald Trump and other national and state leaders underscoring the importance of maintaining a steady food supply amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Groups included the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, North Dakota Farmers Union, North Dakota Wheat Commission, National Sunflower Association, North Dakota Barley Council, Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association and North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

“Agriculture cannot function properly if the basic tools such as seed, fertilizer, crop protection products, feed, pharmaceuticals, equipment and farm labor are not in place,” the letter said.

Separately, U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., joined a bipartisan group of senators in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, urging him to use his authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act to make one-time, emergency payments to cattle ranchers.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, said legislation being considered by the Senate would provide billions of dollars for the CCC to help ranchers.

Bismarck garbage collection

Bismarck's Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Recycling Center at the city landfill is closed until further notice. 

The landfill will be open during regular business hours.

Garbage and recycling will be collected as normal.

Highway signs educate

The North Dakota Department of Transportation has launched an educational campaign utilizing 45 electronic highway signs around the state. 

The messages are aimed at encouraging North Dakotans to be more diligent about containing the spread of the coronavirus.

The current messages are “COVID-19 #NDSMART HEALTH.ND.GOV” and “COVID-19 FACTS NOT FEAR HEALTH.ND.GOV.”

“Using our digital message signs, we are reminding North Dakotans to do their part in limiting the spread of COVID-19," Transportation Director Bill Panos said in a statement.

The signs will feature various messages over the next few weeks. The messages will be activated only when there are no critical emergency or traffic safety messages.

Sanford changes bike event

The 2020 Sanford Health Foundation Great American Bike Race will no longer be a public event. Plans are in the works to have the public participate in a virtual event on April 25.

Plans are being finalized. More information can be found at: gabr.sanfordhealth.org

The stationary bike race began in Bismarck-Mandan in 1997 and has since become a tradition across the Sanford Health footprint.

Over the past 22 years, the Bismarck event has raised more than $4.6 million to support children and young adults in central and western North Dakota with cerebral palsy and other childhood-onset conditions that affect development.

North Dakota virus numbers

North Dakota has 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19: 16 in Burleigh County, seven in Morton County, three in Ward County, two in Pierce County, and one each in Cass County and Ramsey County. Four people has been hospitalized. There have been no deaths. State and private labs have conducted 1,355 total tests, with 1,325 coming back negative.

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