North Dakota coronavirus news, May 15: Tribal casinos reopening

North Dakota coronavirus news, May 15: Tribal casinos reopening

From the North Dakota coronavirus news series
Coronavirus need to know

The latest North Dakota coronavirus news: casinos, state courts, federal aid and more.

Tribal casinos reopening

Casinos on the Standing Rock Sioux and Fort Berthold reservations are reopening.

The Three Affiliated Tribes was reopening 4 Bears Casino and Lodge near New Town on Friday. More details can be found on the casino's website, at https://bit.ly/35ObiyS.

Prairie Knights Casino and Resort near Fort Yates has set a tentative reopening date of May 29.

"We are anxious to welcome everyone back and will continue to keep you updated on any and all information pertaining to our reopening on Facebook and our website," the casino said in a social media post. The website is at https://prairieknights.com/.

The casinos closed in late March after Gov. Doug Burgum urged tribal governments to follow his lead and order eating and drinking establishments, as well as recreation and entertainment businesses, to close on-site services to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Grand Theatres reopening

The Grand Theatres movie theater in Bismarck is planning to reopen on May 22 "or shortly thereafter," the business announced on its website and Facebook pages.

The theater said it will be "playing some of the biggest hits from the past at a reduced rate of $5 per seat" until new releases are available.

State operating protocols during the coronavirus pandemic limit capacity at movie theaters to 20% of normal. There are several other restrictions aimed at preventing people from congregating, such as staggered show start times and minimal people in the lobby. 

Accepting federal aid

The Legislature’s Budget Section on Friday unanimously approved 12 requests from state agencies to accept federal aid, mostly all for responding to the pandemic. 

On Tuesday, the state’s Emergency Commission, chaired by Burgum, gave its approval to a slate of requests, but those in excess of $50,000 required the legislative OK.

The aid totals more than $575 million to the attorney general’s office, the secretary of state’s office, the Council on the Arts, the departments of health, human services, commerce, information technology, trust lands, agriculture, corrections and rehabilitation, Job Service North Dakota, the Bank of North Dakota, the North Dakota Veterans’ Home and the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

State court staff

North Dakota state court staff are moving to return to in-person settings and to plan for the judicial branch’s new two-year budget.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Jon Jensen said the minimum number of court staff to carry out judicial functions will be onsite throughout the state’s district courts by June 1.

Jensen also said the judiciary will review Burgum’s 2021-23 budgeting guidelines while crafting its budget request for the 2021 Legislature. Court officials will begin working on the new two-year budget next week. Jensen said comments from court staff are encouraged.

Burleigh County grant

The Department of Justice has awarded Burleigh County a $58,008 grant through the COVID-19 Emergency Supplemental Funding Program, according to U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

The money is to support a broad range of activities to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus. Uses may include overtime pay, equipment, hiring, supplies, training, travel expenses and medical needs of inmates.

The city of Grand Forks also is getting a grant, of $75,829.

Separately, the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks is getting two grants totaling $186,080 from the Department of Health and Human  Services for COVID-19 response efforts, Cramer said.

Federal bus aid

The Federal Transit Administration has awarded $18 million to the North Dakota Department of Transportation through the federal CARES Act economic rescue package, according to U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

The money is to help fund operations and preventive maintenance for rural and intercity bus operators throughout the state during the COVID-19 crisis, he said.

It's part of $25 billion being doled out nationwide.

Sitting Bull College

Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates has doled out money it received through the federal CARES Act economic rescue package to students.

The $187,524 went to undergraduate, degree-seeking students, the school said in a statement.

Payments were based on the number of credits a student was enrolled in and attendance in coursework. The money is to be used for student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. 

North Dakota virus numbers

North Dakota has 1,761 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 109 in Burleigh County and 39 in Morton County. There have been 1,071 recoveries and 42 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 130 people have been hospitalized; 35 remain so. State and private labs have conducted tests on 51,715 people, and conducted 60,492 total tests.

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