Gov. Doug Burgum, along with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday at the White House to discuss North Dakota’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, and the need for continued federal support.
During the meeting, Burgum said North Dakota has the nation’s second-highest per capita testing rate, at nearly 63 tests per 1,000 people, as well as its fifth-lowest rate of positive tests.
However, he also noted a Red River Valley COVID-19 Task Force has been formed to specifically address concerns about a growing concentration of COVID-19 cases in Cass County.
Burgum also thanked the president for testing resources provided by the federal government so far and asked for continued support to ensure North Dakota can fully execute its strategy for testing and contact tracing.
Also attending the meeting were Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator; Interior Secretary David Bernhardt; U.S. Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Cory Gardner of Colorado; and North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer.
Among the assistance provided so far:
- President Trump approved the state’s request for a major presidential disaster declaration on April 1, ordering federal assistance to supplement state, local and tribal recovery efforts in areas affected by COVID-19.
- As of last week, the IRS had issued more than 287,000 economic impact payments totaling more than $510 million to eligible individuals in North Dakota.
- The Small Business Administration has issued more than $1.7 billion in loans to over 18,400 North Dakota small businesses through loan and funding programs created by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economy Security (CARES) Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on March 27.
- The State of North Dakota received $1.25 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund created by the CARES Act. On Tuesday, the state Emergency Commission, chaired by Burgum, approved using $524.2 million of the money, with additional requests expected.
- The U.S. Department of Education has provided more than $62 million to support K-12 and higher education, while also suspending student loan payments and waiving interest during the emergency.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation has allocated more than $34 million in funds for public transportation in North Dakota and over $85 million to help North Dakota airports cover continuing operations and lost revenue.
- Between the Administration’s Project Air Bridge and the Strategic National Stockpile, the federal government has supplied North Dakota with more than 102,000 N95 masks, 1.5 million surgical and procedural masks, nearly 55,000 eye and face shields, 600,000 isolation/surgical gowns and coveralls, and over 42 million surgical and exam gloves.
- The Administration has provided $52.6 million in testing assistance to North Dakota to help the state and tribal nations meeting testing goals.