Burgum receives criticism for lack of stay-at-home order

Minnesota and North Dakota’s COVID-19 response differs in a major area

As COVID-19 continues to spread, most of the response and the regulation is coming from state governors. With only the Red River separating North Dakota and Minnesota, how is life different for residents on their respected side? While both state’s plans are similar in some ways, the restrictions for citizens are different.

As of April 15, North Dakota remains one of only seven states in the country where a stay-at-home order has not been issued. The other six states include Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has received criticism for not issuing a stay-at-home order. Instead, he has promoted personal responsibility and urges residents to follow the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the Pioneer Prairie, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has been in contact with officials from Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota and is concerned that no stay-at-home order has been issued. Burgum responded in a press conference saying, “We’re a low population state and a large low population state. I will use every tool at my disposal as governor to protect the lives and safety of North Dakotans. But I’m only going to use those tools if it makes sense and when it makes sense.”

Burgum has also received criticism from North Dakota residents. A petition started by Denise French calls for Burgum to issue a mandatory shelter-in-place. Since its creation on April 3, the petition has received thousands of signatures, over 5,000 as of April 15. Burgum’s democratic challenger in 2020, Shelley Lenz, said she would have issued a shelter-in-order. On April 9, Lenz shared her views on the Plain Talk podcast with her running mate, Ben Vig.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the stay-at-home order directs Minnesota residents to remain in their homes, leaving only for essential needs. Some of these include health and safety activities, outdoor activities and to get necessary supplies like groceries and gas. Residents should maintain social distancing, keeping six feet apart from others, while doing these activities. For a full list of essential activities visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s website at www.health.state.mn.us.

Some guidelines have been adopted by both states. In both Minnesota and North Dakota, restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, theaters, gymnasiums, salons, tattoo parlors, piercing facilities and others have been closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants and other businesses that offer food and beverages can still operate using drive-throughs, delivery services and curbside pick-up orders. Public schools in both states have also closed and have implemented distance learning for grades K-12.

Some businesses that will remain open in both states include health care facilities, childcare facilities, nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

The Institute of Medical and Health Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine provided projections related to COVID-19. Some of these projections include the date of peak deaths due to the virus, the anticipated number of hospital beds needed, the time hospitals will use the most resources and more.

According to the study, North Dakota’s projected date of peak deaths will be April 30 with the most resources being used on April 29. North Dakota has an excess of hospitals and will need five ventilators.

Minnesota’s projected date of peak deaths will be April 29 with the most resources being used on April 28. Minnesota is also projected to have an excess of hospital beds and will need 136 ventilators.

Both Burgum and Walz hold daily press conferences discussing their response to COVID-19 to provide the most current information and provide public updates.

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