More tests equals more positives, Burgum says


North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum says that it is true that the more tests conducted in the COVID-19 battle, the more positive cases will be prevalent in the state. At his Tuesday afternoon press conference, Burgum addressed the issue of more testing equaling more positives.

“The more we test, the more cases we’ll uncover,” the Governor said. “When we’re uncovering a disease that is asymptomatic, that’s a good thing.”

As of Tuesday’s reporting, more than 160,000 North Dakotans have been tested for the novel Coronavirus, with more than 6,900 individuals testing positive for the virus. In addition, 389 have been hospitalized and 107 have died from the virus. North Dakota, however, has seen more than 5,700 residents recover from the virus.

The biggest positive coming out of finding more cases is isolating those.

“We can ask the people that are spreaders to isolate until they are not a spreader anymore,” Burgum said.

Another key factor in the COVID-19 battle is testing. Burgum says testing will continue to be “very important” as schools, both K-12 and higher education, reopen this fall. But Burgum says there is one key statistic to look at when deciphering the numbers. He cautions to not only look at the absolute numbers in the daily reports, but at the percent positive. For example, Tuesday’s report indicated a three percent positive rate.

One of the only ways to effectively gauge risk is to test.

“Until there is a vaccine, testing is going to be an important part of us making decisions,” Burgum said.

In all, North Dakota is poised to start opening back up schools, which involves some risks.

“We are in a very good spot for us to be in a position to add some risk back into the system,” Burgum said. “It gives us confidence to keep moving forward.”

In addition, at Tuesday’s press conference, North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott said students and staff across North Dakota’s University System are encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus. Mass testing events are being planned in Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, Wahpeton, Jamestown, Mayville, Bottineau, Minot, Devils Lake, Belcourt, Fort Totten, Fort Yates, New Town, Williston and Dickinson, and other smaller communities across the state.