Health officials in Washington, D.C., put North Dakota on a list of high-risk coronavirus states on Monday, as active cases of COVID-19 in the state reached a new high.
The move by DC Health means anyone from North Dakota on "nonessential travel" to the nation's capital must self-quarantine for 14 days once they arrive, according to the order from Mayor Muriel Bowser. People on "essential" travel must self-monitor for 14 days, limit contact with others and quarantine if they experience any COVID-19 symptoms. The district's definition of "essential travel" includes government functions; it does not include tourism.
"Reducing travel and abiding by this self-quarantine requirement will help to prevent a projected surge on our hospital capacity in the coming weeks," the order stated.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., said the order shouldn't significantly impact that office.
"The vast majority of the Congressman’s meetings since March have been virtual, and the number of North Dakotans visiting DC at this time is minimal," Elly Peterson said in an email. "While travel by Rep. Armstrong and staff is considered essential, those traveling will be cognizant of the Mayor’s order, and try to limit interactions."
U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., in an emailed statement called the order by the district's mayor "over the top."
“North Dakotans are too sensible to come to Washington, DC at a time like this," he said. "Between mayoral-imposed fears of COVID-19 and legitimate fears of personal safety, Washingtonians would do well to escape and spend some time in North Dakota."
He also said his office "has been exercising common sense practices to stay safe."
The District of Columbia is a federal district overseen by Congress, but it has its own municipal government. The district's criteria for placing a state on its high-risk list is a seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 cases of 10 or more per 100,000 people. North Dakota would need an average of fewer than 76 per day to get off the list, based on its population. Its seven-day rolling average on Monday was 124. State officials consider the state "low risk" under its ND Smart Restart guidelines.
Mike Nowatzki, a spokesman for Gov. Doug Burgum, said Burgum "respects states’ rights and decisions as they relate to travel. He also believes it’s important that decisions are based on good data." Burgum made similar comments last week when New York state added North Dakota to its list of states from which residents must quarantine after arriving. North Dakota also is listed on the travel restriction lists of New Jersey and Connecticut.
Nowatzki said North Dakota has always had a high per-capita COVID-19 testing rate, leading to a high per-capita positive rate.
"So while active cases have indeed been on the rise in North Dakota, our higher testing rate is almost certainly a factor in being added to these travel quarantine lists," he said. "And again, identifying positives is exactly what we’re aiming for in our increased testing strategy: test, trace, isolate and slow the spread."
North Dakota's Department of Health on Monday reported 112 new cases of COVID-19, raising the statewide total to 5,986 since the start of the pandemic. Active cases rose to 1,058, 33 more than Sunday's high.
New cases were reported in 25 counties, including 25 cases in Burleigh, which has developed into a hot spot this month, and five in neighboring Morton. Burleigh continues to lead the state in active cases, with 261. Morton is fourth, with 84, behind Cass and Grand Forks counties.
The number of people in North Dakota tested for coronavirus at least once is at 148,366, and total tests number 293,191. There have been 337 hospitalizations, 4,829 recoveries and 99 deaths. Forty-three people remained hospitalized Monday.
For more information on coronavirus in North Dakota, go to health.nd.gov/coronavirus.
(Reporter Amy R. Sisk contributed to this story)
Reach Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or email@example.com.
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