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COVID-19: North Dakotans Urged to Not Let Their Guard Down

More than 3,000 positive coronavirus cases have been reported in North Dakota. State health officials hope social distancing and other measures will keep the state's situation stable. (Adobe Stock)
More than 3,000 positive coronavirus cases have been reported in North Dakota. State health officials hope social distancing and other measures will keep the state's situation stable. (Adobe Stock)
June 29, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. -- While COVID-19 cases spike in other parts of the U.S., North Dakota's total remains relatively low.

But the state's older population is being urged to stay vigilant to avoid infection.

Prior to the spikes in such states as Florida and Arizona, many states were gradually re-opening their economies.

There's no infection spike in North Dakota, but health officials are still asking everyone, including people over 50, to take steps to shield themselves from the coronavirus.

Josh Askvig, state director of AARP in North Dakota, says an upcoming event aims to provide more clarity for anyone who's curious about the latest guidelines and prevention tools.

"How does contact tracing work?" he offers as an example. "If somebody contracts COVID-19, who gets tested and who doesn't? And if they test positive, how far does that, you know, testing go beyond that?"

To get answers to these questions, AARP is hosting a telephone town hall this Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. The event will feature an official from the state health department.

The call for vigilance also comes as certain restrictions are being eased at long-term care facilities in North Dakota.

Molly Howell, assistant director of the health department's Division of Disease Control, will field questions for Wednesday's event. She credits the state's emphasis on tools like contact tracing for keeping North Dakota's COVID-19 situation fairly stable.

"We're interviewing those cases, identifying their close contacts," she states. "And then, we're following up with all those close contacts, to notify those individuals that they were exposed to COVID-19 and need to stay home for 14 days."

Howell says one of the biggest takeaways right now is that all residents, especially those considered vulnerable, should do their best to avoid large crowds when venturing out.

Through its social media pages, AARP North Dakota has links for anyone interested in participating in Wednesday's Q-and-A session, including details on how to register.

Disclosure: AARP North Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - ND