North Dakota K-12 students will continue distance learning for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Doug Burgum announced Friday, May 1.

School buildings have been closed since mid-March. Burgum said asking schools to reopen would have put a burden on local school boards to figure out how to safely allow students back into the classrooms and have caused angst among families.

North Dakota's 120,000 students, almost all enrolled in public schools, have been involved in distance learning for about 20 days.

The announcement comes the same day as North Dakota reported its highest death toll for a single day. Four more people, all of whom lived in Cass County, died in recent days after contracting the coronavirus in North Dakota, according to numbers released Friday, May 1.

The additional deaths brings the total loss of life count to 23, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. The deaths include men in their 70s and 90s and two women, one each in their 80s and 90s.

North Dakota also reported 40 additional cases, bringing the state total to 1,107, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. The state completed 2,065 tests in one day, the most from a single batch to date.

Minnesota

The State Health Department reported 594 additional Minnesotans had tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and 28 more had died from the illness. In total, 5,730 have tested positive for the illness and 371 have died from the disease and its complications. Health officials note that the confirmed positive total significantly undercounts the number of Minnesotans who've contracted COVID-19.

The state reported 4,553 more Minnesotans were tested Thursday, the highest one-day increase to date, and a figure closer to Walz's goal of 5,000 a day. There have been 74,829 Minnesotans tested for COVID-19 so far.

There were 369 hospitalized for the illness as of Friday and 118 patients in intensive care units. Another 2,282 sickened with COVID-19 had recovered and were out of isolation.

The deaths Friday were reported in Anoka, Benton, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey and Washington counties. And communities with meat processing plants again saw their confirmed case totals surge as testing in those counties increased.

South Dakota

The coronavirus has killed eight South Dakotans in the last two days, growing the pandemic's death toll in the state to 21, state officials reported Friday, May 1.

The state reported four deaths Thursday and four more Friday. All eight fatalities from the two days are in Minnehaha County, home to Sioux Falls. Of the state's death count from COVID-19, 16 are in that county alone.

A Sioux Falls senior-care facility has been particularly hard hit. The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society's Sioux Falls Village reported Friday four new fatalities, bringing the death toll among the facility's residents to seven.

The fatalities were among the 2,525 South Dakotans who have tested positive for the coronavirus, adding 76 from the previous day. The bulk of the state's cases, 2,242, are in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, home to Sioux Falls.

Another outbreak state public health officials are tracking is at DemKota Ranch Beef facility in Aberdeen. There are now 22 cases linked to that plant, they said Friday.

The state's largest known outbreak, at the massive Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, appears to have halted. Officials link 1,098 coronavirus cases to the plant alone.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin saw an increase of 460 positive cases of COVID-19 on Friday, for a statewide total of 7,314, according to the state Department of Health Services.

Friday saw the largest single-day increase in positive cases the state has seen since the outbreak began, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. Previously, the largest single-day increase was a jump on Thursday of 334 positive cases.

According to figures from DHS, 327 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19 as of Friday, WPR reported.

Around the region

  • Face-to-face classes at South Dakota's colleges are planned to resume in the fall, the South Dakota Board of Regents announced Friday, May 1. The board's decision affects classes at South Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota, Black Hills State University, Dakota State University, Northern State University, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the South Dakota School for the Deaf.
  • Hit hard by falling oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has instructed state agencies to submit budget requests for the next biennium 5% to 15% below current levels.

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