The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) today reported the first confirmed death of a North Dakota resident due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The death occurred in a man in his 90s from Cass County who had underlying health conditions and acquired COVID-19 through community spread, meaning the source of infection was unknown.

“Kathryn and I extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends who have lost a loved one,” Burgum said. “Each of us has a responsibility to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in North Dakota and protect those most vulnerable to the disease – our elderly and individuals with underlying health conditions. We’re all in this together.” 

“My heart is with the friends, family and caregivers who are grieving,” said State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte. “As a courtesy, we ask that you respect the privacy of the family at this time. Now more than ever, we need to take care of each other and do our part to prevent the spread of this virus.”

Steps everyone can take to slow the spread of the virus include:  

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or sleeve, or a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands afterwards. 
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth – with unwashed hands. 
  • Stay home if you have cold- or flu-like symptoms, for seven days after your illness onset or three days after your fever resolves without fever reducing medicine, and avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

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 should limit social gatherings to less than 10 people and those traveling internationally or domestically into North Dakota should self-isolate for 14 days.  

The state has taken significant steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its impacts, including: 

  • Restricting access to K-12 schools except to essential workers as age-appropriate distance learning plans are developed. 
  • Closing athletic facilities, theaters, bars and restaurants except for takeout, delivery and curbside service. 
  • Expanding telehealth services and suspending licensing requirements to allow health care workers from other states to practice in North Dakota if appropriately licensed in another state. 
  • Recommending limiting access to nursing homes as recommended by the American Health Care Association, and conducting site visits at all 218 skilled nursing, basic care and assisted living facilities in North Dakota.  
  • Expanding unemployment insurance eligibility and streamlining the application process. 
  • Providing public education and recommendations on the importance of social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, practicing good hygiene and staying home when sick or after returning from travel to known COVID-19 hotspots.  

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 www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus , follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.