North Dakota governor requests COVID-19 disaster declaration

Associated Press

Gov. Doug Burgum said Sunday he has requested a major presidential disaster declaration as the number of coronavirus cases in North Dakota approaches 100.

As of Sunday, the state reports 98 positive cases from state and private labs, up from 94 the previous day. One death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has been reported in North Dakota.

A disaster declaration by President Donald Trump would unlock federal aid to help North Dakota pay for its response to the pandemic, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

“Federal assistance is critical for our capability to expand North Dakota’s response to the rapidly evolving impacts of COVID-19,” Burgum said in the request dated Friday.

The request includes state modeling showing how widely the new virus could infect North Dakotans. Burgum wrote that 152,000 people could become infected over an 18-month period, including 22,000 who would require 14-day hospitalizations.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Burgum wrote that if projections hold true, North Dakota's existing health care facilities “will rapidly exhaust capacity.” He said that the state would need to establish makeshift care facilities.