North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed an executive order Monday, May 11, that will allow school facilities to reopen for summer programs starting June 1. Local school boards and superintendents have the ultimate decision of whether to reopen the facilities, he said.
The governor called the move a "soft opening" leading up to next school year when the state aims to reopen schools to all students. Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler said summer school programs must be limited to 15 people and follow other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Burgum said 16,500 students attended summer programs in schools last year. Programs schools may offer include driver's education, child care, standardized testing preparation and conventional summer school classes.
Schools may also choose to allow students to return briefly to collect belongings and return materials from May 15 and May 30. Burgum ordered school facilities closed in mid March, and students have been taking distance education courses since the beginning of April.
Earlier in the day, the state Department of Health announced a Cass County man in his 90s has died from COVID-19. As with every other North Dakota resident who has died from illness, the department reported the man had underlying health conditions.
A total of 36 North Dakotans, including 27 residents of Cass County, have now died from the illness that has claimed more than 80,000 lives nationwide.
The department also confirmed 27 new cases of COVID-19 on 2,145 tests Monday. The high number of tests puts the state back on track toward its goal of completing 1,800 tests per day. The state fell short of the target most of last week. Still, North Dakota ranks among the top states in the country in testing per capita.
Minnesota health officials reported 13 deaths from COVID-19 on Monday.
Nine of the deaths were recorded in residents of Hennepin County, two in Ramsey County and one each in Rice and Stearns counties. The new deaths Monday bring the state total to 591 lives lost in Minnesota over the course of the past eight weeks, according to the state Department of Health. If the current death total holds, it appears likely the state will lose 1,000 lives by the end of May.
Stearns County remains the second-highest county in the state for confirmed cases of the virus, adding 38 on Monday to reach 1,443. Kandiyohi County, home of two turkey processing plants in Willmar, added 32 cases Monday to reach 316 total. New cases have declined in Nobles County, however, home to an outbreak at the JBS pork plant in Worthington, where just 14 positive tests were recorded Sunday, for a new total of 1,269 confirmed cases.
Active COVID-19 cases in South Dakota are at 1,393, an increase of 57 from Sunday.
Total positive confirmed cases in South Dakota have increased by 97 since Sunday, for a total of 3,614 in the state.
Those who have recovered from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, are at 2,187, an increase of 40 cases.
Current hospitalizations in South Dakota are at 78, up one from Sunday. Total hospitalizations in the state are at 263, up two from Sunday. The total number of deaths remains at 34, health officials said.
A total of 10,418 positive cases were reported in Wisconsin on Monday, according to the state Department of Health Services. There have been 409 deaths in the state, and increase of nine from Sunday’s report.
Around the region
- South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Monday she will be pursuing legal action to provide clarity on who has legal jurisdiction over checkpoints leading into tribal lands. On Friday, May 8, Noem sent a letter to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe, who have set up health checkpoints on highways coming into their reservations. In the letter, Noem said the tribes had 48 hours to remove the checkpoints or face legal action. Tribal officials and state Democratic leaders have said Noem does not have jurisdiction to order the checkpoints removed.
- The 2020 North Dakota State Fair in Minot has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A press release from the fair states that without a way to predict the scale of the pandemic, the decision is intended to be in the best interest of the health and safety for all involved. Those who purchased tickets with a credit card will be automatically refunded.
- North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will visit the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, May 13, to speak with President Donald Trump about the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki confirmed.
- South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced Monday that Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls is reopening after closing due to a COVID-19 outbreak last month. The outbreak made the pork processing plant one of the largest hotspots in the country. The plant has been closed since April 15 but will now ramp up to full production.
- Minnesota health officials received the state's first shipment of the newly approved COVID-19 transfusion antiviral Remdesivir drug over the weekend, health officials said during a press call on Monday. The treatment is being distributed to patients on a prioiritized system based on patient health status. The state received 1,200 vials of the drug, which was not shown to reduce mortality in a recent NIAID trial but did shorten the length of stay from 15 to 11 days on average.
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