As COVID-19 cases climb in North Dakota, officials say statewide closures are a last resort

There are now 302 North Dakota residents known to be infected with the illness — a 36% increase from eight days ago. However, the figure is not even half of the state’s pandemic-high number of active cases, which came on May 21, when 669 residents were infected.

Put in a national perspective, the state’s climbing cases are a blip on the radar. At least 35 U.S. states are enduring more severe spikes in new cases than North Dakota, according to the New York Times. Massive outbreaks of the virus have caused Texas, Arizona, California and Florida to reverse plans to reopen their economies, while several other states have pressed pause on their plans and required face masks to be worn in public.

Mike Nowaztki, a spokesman for North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, said state officials are closely monitoring the flare-ups across the country to ensure that the wave doesn’t reach geographically isolated North Dakota.

Burgum was one of the few governors that never issued a statewide stay-at-home order, but he did order bars, schools, barbershops and other businesses to close temporarily after the pandemic hit the state in March. Nowatzki said the governor is confident that step won’t be necessary

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