North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum ordered Thursday, March 19 that bars, breweries, cafes and restaurants close to on-site business. The order also includes gyms, movie theaters and other venues.
"This is one of the ways we can limit the spread," Burgum said, acknowledging the difficulties this will bring for businesses.
Restaurants and bars will be able to continue with delivery, take-out, drive-thru and pickup services.
The order goes into effect at noon, Friday, March 20 and runs through at least April 6.
As of Thursday afternoon, North Dakota has 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
With schools remaining closed, Burgum directed each district to come up with an "innovative education plan" that must be approved by the state for a district to start teaching again, remotely. Those plans are due to the state by Friday, March 27. Schools could start teaching remotely by Wednesday, April 1.
Gov. Tim Walz ordered every medical provider in the state to postpone non-essential services until further notice.
The governor's emergency order requires "all non-essential or elective surgeries and procedures, including non-emergent or elective dental care, that utilize PPE or ventilators, must be postponed indefinitely." The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 23, and comes two days after the Minnesota Hospital Association requested the action in a letter to the governor.
Health officials said on Thursday that the state tested 405 Minnesotans for coronavirus on Wednesday, adding 12 new cases and raising the statewide confirmed case count to 89.
The state added four cases in Hennepin County, one in Rice County, one in Carver County, three in Anoka County, one in Martin County, one in Mower County, and one in Clay County, the latter earlier misreported by health officials as Wadena County and marking the first appearance of the virus in the northland. All were recovering at home.
South Dakota's public health lab has restarted processing coronavirus tests on Thursday, March 19, halted since Monday due to a shortage of lab supplies, with hundreds of tests awaiting processing.
The lab received an expedited shipment of the needed supplies due to the assistance of the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Gov. Kristi Noem, in a visit to the state's Emergency Operations Center in Pierre on Thursday.
By late afternoon, the state recorded its 14th positive test.
Around the region
U.S. Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., is introducing a bill to extend Americans' tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Treasury Department has already announced that it will extend the 2019 tax payment deadline to July. Thune called the Treasury's payment extension "an important first step," but "it only makes sense to also extend the tax filing deadline itself."
Minnesota's 10 congressional delegates on Thursday, March 19, called on the federal Small Business Administration to free up Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Newspaper associations in Minnesota and North Dakota urged their governors to designate their members as essential services.
More than 31,000 people in Minnesota applied for unemployment on Wednesday alone, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. A normal day is 500.
Wisconsin has 155 positive cases with 62 in Milwaukee County. Bayfield County recorded its first.
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