Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 07:40 pm Categories:

The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) today confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 which are the first confirmed cases of community spread of the disease in North Dakota.

Community spread means the spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. In the Morton County cases, the patients had no history of travel and no contact with any person who has been confirmed to have COVID-19. One of the individuals from Morton County is a woman in her 30s and the other is a female in the range of 10 to 19 years old. The patients were not hospitalized and are self-isolating at home.  

The NDDoH is working to identify other individuals who may have come into close contact with the patients. These individuals will be contacted directly by the NDDoH and monitored by public health for fever and respiratory symptoms.

“These are the first confirmed cases of community transmission in North Dakota, reinforcing the importance for all North Dakotans to practice social distancing and stay home when you’re sick, even if it’s minor,” Gov. Doug Burgum said.

“If you are sick, you need to stay home. If you are being tested for COVID-19 or a family member is, you need to stay home until your test results are in,” State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte said. “Self-isolating, washing your hands and keeping six feet away from other individuals is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Burgum, Tufte, State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and other state officials and health professionals discussed the latest updates on North Dakota’s response to the COVID-19 crisis during a press briefing today, which can be viewed on the NDDoH Facebook Page.

With evidence of community spread now in North Dakota, Burgum strongly recommended that movie theaters, gyms and similar types of businesses where the public congregates consider closing, and that restaurants and bars consider closing or switching to food takeout or delivery options only. Burgum said the potential for mandatory closures will be evaluated on a day-by-day basis, with a focus on whether people are exercising personal responsibility and practicing social distancing.

Burgum, Tufte and state health officials strongly recommend that North Dakotans follow the guidelines released by the White House on Monday to slow the spread of coronavirus, including:

  • Stay home and don’t go to work if you feel sick.
  • Practice good hygiene: wash your hands, avoid touching your face and cover coughs and sneezes.
  • If someone in the household has tested positive for coronavirus, keep the entire household at home.
  • Older individuals and those with underlying health conditions should stay away from other people.
  • Work from home when possible.
  • Avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants and food courts – use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits.

Health officials also ask individuals returning from traveling on a cruise ship or individuals returning from skiing in Colorado to self-isolate for two weeks and self-report on the NDDoH website.

Symptoms of COVID-19 in people who have been exposed can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Individuals who think they may have COVID-19 but have minor symptoms should self-isolate at home. Individuals seeking medical attention should call before they go in.

For questions related to COVID-19, the public can call the NDDoH health hotline at 1-866-207-2880 daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Individuals who need medical advice should contact their health care provider.

For the most updated and timely information and updates related to COVID-19, including test result counts, visit the NDDoH website at , follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit the CDC website at