Earlier this week, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum was tasked with a decision—open up his state following a COVID-19 pandemic that was continuing to ravage the country, or delay the opening for two weeks. When the announcement was made on Wednesday, Burgum said it was a decision that was made based on the current situation across North Dakota and surrounding states. Now, May 1 is the new target date for opening up North Dakota’s businesses and economy.
“I think it’s a great milestone and a great marker (May 1),” Burgum said. “Whatever we do on May 1st, we have to remember why we went into this situation, which was to try to save lives and protect those who are most vulnerable.”
As Burgum has said all along, it is not about the “lives versus economy.” Whatever is done on May 1 has to “work for all North Dakotans.”
The work towards the potential opening on May 1 “needs to get started right now.” Burgum has called it the ‘North Dakota Smart Restart.’
As far as data goes, Burgum says the state’s numbers are smaller than they could be, which he attributes to the work of the community.
“What we learned is that if you have a light touch on government mandates and a strong emphasis on individual responsibility, what we found it is North Dakotans can change their behavior. People can figure out how to work and school from home,” he said.
When looking ahead at the ‘smart restart’, Governor Burgum says that there will need to be new levels and rules to follow—whether it be hygiene or social distancing—until there is a vaccine, which there is currently none. Another thing Burgum says is daily health screenings would have to happen.
North Dakota also needs to be read to respond if there’s a surge in positive cases.
“If we have a breakout, we want to be able to rapidly go in and contain it,” Burgum said. “Without a vaccine and population wide testing, we have to have that kind of skill as part of our reopening package.”
Burgum says he is working with all of the associations with regards to opening.
On an earlier call with fellow governors, Burgum said one thing is clear—there is no federal ‘one size fits all’ approach to reopening the country. He also said that a lot of the work that needs to be done doesn’t have to be done by federal, saying, “We can make a lot of progress on the things we can control.”
Burgum prides his state on being on the front edge when the Coronavirus pandemic broke out.
“We got out there early,” he said. “We got more machines (to do testing) from Abbott early on in this thing.”
Burgum calls the approach a “targeted” approach, meaning that there will be a systemic process to reopening the state, which may include limiting how many people can be in an establishment at one time. One thing is for sure—standard operating procedures will not be the standard operating procedures businesses saw before.
“The daily disinfection procedures will have to be amped up,” he said. “Daily screenings would also have to happen.”
Team North Dakota continues their diligent work to protect all of its citizens.