This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up or thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
Gov. Doug Burgum signed an executive order last week that extends workers’ compensation benefits to first responders and health care providers who contract COVID-19 on the job. It also provides up to 14 days of medical and wage replacement benefits if essential first responders are required to be quarantined. This is critical protection for those who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Health care workers, firefighters, law enforcement and others are not only risking their health, but also financial security if they miss work due to exposure. It might be hard for workers to prove how they contract COVID-19. The state should work to make this program as accommodating as possible to first responders protecting our community.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., used the R-word in a tweet last week to describe House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Cramer deleted the tweet soon after he posted it and blamed it on autocorrect. Cramer told The Associated Press in an interview that he meant to type, “She's ridiculous.” It seems unlikely that autocorrect would suggest the offensive word unless it’s a word he types often. Cramer apologized, telling the AP “I'm really sorry it happened.”
The State Board of Higher Education selected an experienced community college leader to be the next president of Bismarck State College. Douglas Jensen, president of Rock Valley College in Illinois, will succeed Larry Skogen, who is retiring. The committee conducted a thorough national search that brought five candidates to campus. The committee should be commended for using human resources staff at BSC rather than hiring an outside search consultant, keeping the search costs to $38,400. Jensen is expected to start on or before July 1.
The coronavirus pandemic is prompting a shortage in blood donations. Many regular donors are older than 55 and are staying home due to concerns about the virus. Closures of high schools, colleges and businesses also reduce the number of blood drives being held. Vitalant, the only blood supplier for most of North Dakota’s hospitals, needs about 250 donations a day across the state to keep up with regional hospital demand. The organization has seen at least a 40% decline in the number of blood drives and is canceling events through June. The shortage is a concern nationally, too, so North Dakota may not be able to get blood from neighboring states. Surgeon General Jerome Adams recently encouraged younger people to donate blood.
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