Lieutenant Governor Sanford gives a COVID-19 update


“Distancing seems to be working in the upper Midwest,” North Dakota Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford said Monday on What’s On Your Mind.

The Lieutenant Governor says steps are being taken towards looking at opening North Dakota back up as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the world. Sanford says that the situation, however, continues to be “fluid and dynamic.”

“We are looking at dialing in the official modeling, surge plan and conversation about phased reopening this week,” he said. “This week is going to be about ‘What is a phased reopening going to look like?’”

On the forefront of Governor Doug Burgum’s mind is, however, the possibility of a surge happening when the state is reopened.

“We have to be careful on our reopening plan,” Sanford said. “We don’t want to see a surge.”

Burgum is asking for more testing to be done, which will help aid in the reopening process. Moreso, the Governor wants to focus on the vulnerable populations before the state opens up on a broader scale. In addition, the state of North Dakota is amping up contact tracing and testing across the state.

“You’re going to see the governor be data-driven, like always,” Sanford said.

Geographic dispersion is something being talked about in projection of spread.

“We probably won’t see the herd immunity,” he said.

Initial estimates in Minnesota were very high, but they are not seeing the rates earlier projected.

One concern is asymptomatic cases.

“We don’t know our asymptomatic rate,” Sanford said.

The state is looking at currently doing the antibody testing.

“We will continue to watch the next few weeks on how it (antibody testing) goes,” he said.

Hospital capacity

As of Monday morning, 13 people were hospitalized currently, with a total of 40 needing to be hospitalized since the pandemic began more than a month ago.

Another concern is hospital capacity. North Dakota has a hospital capacity of more than 2,000 beds. In addition, the state has put 200 beds each in the FargoDome and the Fieldhouse at the University of Mary in Bismarck.

Conversations with Drs. Fauci, Birx

State officials continue to have regular conversations with Drs. Fauci and Birx, who both are on The White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and serves as a “de facto” public health spokesman for Trump’s office, and Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the Trump Administration's White House Coronavirus Task Force, both have told the North Dakota state delegation that there is not a “one size fits all” type of model or situation for the virus. For example, the conversation in the State of New York is much different than the conversation in North Dakota.

Sanford says Fauci was excited to hear about the positive rate in North Dakota, reiterating the fact that there is not a “one size fits all” scenario.

“Fauci said, ‘You’re doing a great job, doing everything you possibly can. It’s not the same in New York as it is in North Dakota,’” Sanford said.