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North Dakota: State-by-State COVID-19 Guidance


Please note: As of April 15, 2021 we are no longer doing regularly scheduled updates to this page.

April 15, 2021:

The North Dakota Department of Health is recommending that vaccine providers pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following release of a joint statement by the CDC and the FDA discussing possible side-effects.

March 22, 2021:

The North Dakota Department of Health announced that Phase 2 of the state’s vaccine rollout—which will open access to all North Dakotans over age 16—will begin on March 29, 2021.

March 15, 2021:

Beginning the week of March 29, 2021, the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will resume in-person visitation at all facilities (including adult and youth facilities). Regarding visitation, however, all facilities will be adhering to the following guidelines:

  • A COVID-19 test must be administered no more than five days before the scheduled visitation date with negative results OR a rapid COVID-19 test must be administered with a negative result at the specific facility prior to visitation.
  • Visitors must consent to being screened for COVID-19 (symptoms screenings which will include temperature checks) and sharing the test results with the NDDoH for contact tracing purposes.
  • One adult visitor is allowed per visitation, and all visits must be pre-scheduled due to occupancy limitations.
  • N95 masks must be worn by the visitor.

March 11, 2021:

On March 9, 2021, Governor Burgum announced that the state is shifting away from state-driven guidance with regard to assisted living facilities, deferring to local decision-makers. The Governor rescinded two applicable executive orders, 2020-22 and 2020-22.1, as of 8:00 a.m. on March 12. Order 2020-22 suspended visitation (other than end-of-life or compassionate care for terminal residents) in long-term care facilities. Order 2020-22.1 established the Vulnerable Population Protection Plan (VP3) to protect “vulnerable citizens residing in long-term care facilities, intermediate care facilities serving individuals with developmental disabilities and other congregate living facilities.” However, facilities are still strongly encouraged to collaborate with the VP3 team, and the state will continue to provide free rapid testing supplies to keep facility residents, staff, and visitors safe from COVID-19.

Governor Burgum’s deference to facilities’ post-vaccination plans is based on vaccination rates within long-term care facilities within the state: over 90 percent of long-term care residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and over 85 percent of residents and 49 percent of staff have received both doses of the vaccine.

As of March 9, 2021, all vaccine administration sites in the state have entered Phase 1C, which includes essential workers who have not previously been vaccinated and people with one underlying health condition.

March 2, 2021:

On March 2, 2021, the North Dakota Department of Health announced the state will integrate the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine into the state’s vaccine rollout. The state’s initial allocation of 6,300 doses will go to pharmacies and urgent cares. Most providers remain in Phase 1B, although some have progressed to phase 1C.

March 1, 2021:

On February 26, 2021, the North Dakota Department of Commerce announced $20 million in grant funding is available through the second round of the Hospitality Economic Resiliency Grant PLUS. Applications for funding open on March 9 at 10:00 a.m. HERG PLUS is intended to assist the state’s hotels, motels, lodges, and resort establishments that have lost revenue due to low occupancy during the pandemic. Eligible facilities can apply for up to $40,000 to reimburse operations costs incurred between March 27, 2020 and December 29, 2020. Establishments excluded from grant funding include: private vacation rentals or bed-and-breakfasts that rent rooms and apartments, condos, or homes rented to the traveling public through online marketplaces.

On March 1, 2021, the North Dakota Department of Health reminded healthcare providers that COVID-19 vaccinations are reserved for in-state residents, and the only out-of-state residents permitted to receive the vaccine are those who live or work in North Dakota (such as college students and other temporary residents).

February 23, 2021:

On February 22, Governor Burgum signed Executive Order 2021-05 terminating several prior orders issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. The terminated orders relate to the following:

  • Temporary emergency licensing requirements for healthcare facilities and workers;
  • Workers’ compensation eligibility for first responders, health care workers, funeral home directors and employees, and individuals providing care to those with intellectual or development disabilities;
  • The transfer of surplus state property needed for the COVID-19 response;
  • The reopening of certain businesses;
  • Work registration requirements for persons seeking unemployment benefits; and
  • Public hearings conducted by the Department of Environmental Quality.

According to the Governor, the terminated orders have fulfilled their stated objectives, and are thus no longer necessary.

This week, voluntary vaccinations began for staff and residents at North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation facilities. First round vaccinations are expected to be completed by the end of next week.

February 17, 2021:

Next week, on February 24, 2021, the State Health Council, which is the advisory body of the NDDoH, is holding an online meeting at 8:30 a.m. The meeting will include discussions on a variety of topics, some of which are related to COVID-19:

  • State laboratory testing update;
  • Disease Control and Forensic Pathology update; and
  • State Health Officer update.

The meeting will be accessible here.

February 11, 2021:

As of February 11, 2021, a total of 92,266 North Dakota residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Beginning this week, Thrifty White Pharmacy is receiving federal doses of the vaccine. Residents can visit the pharmacy website to find locations with available clinic slots in their area.

February 10, 2021:

As of February 10, 2021, many areas across the state are starting to vaccinate residents aged 65 and older. The state government is encouraging residents to help family, friends, and neighbors connect with COVID-19 vaccine providers through the Vaccine Locator.

February 8, 2021:

On February 5, 2021, the North Dakota Department of Commerce announced that restaurants, bars, breweries, cafes, and other eligible businesses that have not previously applied for Hospitality Economic Resiliency Grant (HERG) funding can do so now through February 25 at 5:00 p.m. Of the 3,400 restaurants and bars in the state, 960 have received grants so far, and Commerce Interim Commissioner Shawn Kessel notes there is $30 million remaining to help eligible business that lost revenue due to the pandemic.

February 2, 2021:

Registration is ongoing for free public testing events across the state. The COVID-19 test itself will take approximately 15 minutes, but residents should pre-register to avoid lengthy wait times. The North Dakota Department of Health is also working with higher education institutions in the state to provide testing events on college campuses.

February 1, 2021:

The North Dakota Department of Health reminded North Dakota residents on February 1, 2021 that free mass screenings using rapid antigen tests are available for asymptomatic persons on February 2 through 6 between noon and 7:00 p.m. at 2805 Morrison Avenue, Suite A, in Bismarck.

January 28, 2021:

On January 28, the North Dakota Department of Commerce announced that the second application window for the Hospitality Economic Resiliency Grant (HERG) will be open from 10 a.m. on February 4 through 5:00 p.m. on February 25. According to Shawn Kessel, the Interim Commerce Commissioner, this application cycle broadens the definition of entertainment venues, thereby making more businesses eligible to apply. Some eligible entities include:

  • Restaurants, bars, breweries, cafes, and other similar on-site dining establishments;
  • Theaters, drama, and music and entertainment venues;
  • Professional production companies that support major venues, meetings, and events; and
  • Hotels with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and/or banquet/meeting spaces.

Eligible hotels must submit receipts clearly showing operational expenses from the reimbursable operations (for example, associated food or staffing costs). Even businesses that received funding after the first HERG distribution may apply this cycle if:

  • They received less than the full eligible amount; and
  • They submit different expenses than those submitted in round one.

Repeat applicants may be eligible for the difference between the two rounds of funds up to the maximum distribution per grant.

January 27, 2021:

On January 27, Governor Burgum adjusted the statewide risk level from moderate/yellow to low/green beginning at 8:00 a.m. on January 29. The downward adjustment will permit bars, restaurants, and other food service establishments to increase their occupancy from 65 percent with a 200-patron cap to 80 percent with a cap of 300 patrons. Establishments are still required to observe and enforce social distancing and are encouraged to either require or strongly recommend the use of face coverings. The official statement of the North Dakota State Government announcing the adjustment referenced the recent state report issued by the Whitehouse, noting that “North Dakota ranked lowest among all states for test positivity last week.”

January 26, 2021:

The vaccine priority groups were updated as of December 31 and, as of January 15, remained in effect. Frontline healthcare workers, first responders, and long-term care residents and staff were immunized in Phase 1A. Subsequent phases in North Dakota’s vaccine distribution plan are as follows, in order of priority:

Phase 1B

  • Persons age 75 and older;
  • Persons age 65-74 with two or more high-risk medical conditions;
  • Staff and residents in other congregate settings, such as corrections, group homes, treatment centers, and homeless shelters;
  • Persons age 65 and older with one or more high-risk medical conditions;
  • Persons age 65 and older with or without high-risk medical conditions;
  • Persons with two or more high-risk medical conditions regardless of age;
  • Child care workers; and
  • Workers employed by preschools or K-12 educational institutions, including teachers, nutritional service staff, aides, bus drivers, principals, administrative staff, and custodians.

Phase 1C

  • North Dakota National Guard;
  • Grocery Workers;
  • Public safety answering points (911 dispatchers);
  • Manufacturing related to the development or supply of the COVID-19 vaccine;
  • Other healthcare and public health workers not included in Phase 1A;
  • Free standing clinical laundries;
  • Public transit workers, including bus, taxi, and ride-share drivers;
  • Persons age 16-64 with one or more high-risk medical conditions;
  • Blood bank workers not previously vaccinated;
  • Information technology personnel; and
  • All other essential workers per Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

The state is expected to enter Phase 1B in mid-January. Following administration of the vaccine to persons in Phase 1C, the state will begin Phase 2, which includes the general public. North Dakota residents are encouraged to utilize the recently unveiled Vaccine Locator to obtain local information about vaccine availability. For information on the vaccine doses administered and weekly vaccine coverage rates for North Dakota, visit the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard. The state also maintains a list of free COVID-19 testing sites.

An updated version of North Dakota’s “Smart Restart” plan was released on January 7. The plan reveals a color-coded health guidance system and coinciding health criteria and health indicator measures based on the number of cases reported, positivity rates, and testing capacity.

November 24, 2020:

On November 23, the North Dakota Emergency Commission approved the reallocation of approximately $35 million in turned-back federal funding to support the state’s COVID-19 response, including $15 million to support medical staffing and nearly $14 million to support economic recovery.

The funding reallocated by the Emergency Commission includes:

  • $15 million for hospital staffing.
  • $8 million to the Department Commerce for expansion of the Hospitality Economic Resiliency Grant program to include the hotel and motel industry. Hotel and motel operators will be eligible for grants of up to $40,000 per location, with a maximum of $80,000 for applicants with multiple locations. Applicants must be a North Dakota business and demonstrate negative financial impact from the pandemic.
  • $6.1 million to cover payroll costs for Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation correctional officers and medical staff.
  • $2.65 million to Job Service North Dakota for reimbursable employers. This funding is meant to cover 50 percent of the unemployment insurance benefit costs that have been paid to the employees of reimbursable employers who experienced job loss or periods of layoff due to the pandemic. The federal government is already covering 50 percent of the costs through the CARES Act, and without the $2.65 million in this allocation, reimbursable employers are struggling to cover the remaining costs. Reimbursable employers are entities such as schools, hospitals, long-term care entities, other health care entities, providers of services and care for the disabled/developmental disabilities, nonprofit childcare, state and local governments, and other nonprofit entities.
  • $2.5 million for a program to provide medical expense assistance for first responders and health care workers who are eligible for expanded worker’s compensation benefits under Executive Orders 2020-12 and 2020-12.2.
  • $800,000 in grants for qualifying nonprofit organizations that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and are at risk of folding due to the inability to generate revenue through performance events and education programs. The North Dakota Council on the Arts expects more than 80 organizations to qualify for the grants to assist with salaries and operating expenses.

On November 22, the North Dakota Department of Health began rolling out free rapid testing for K-12 teachers, staff and administrators this week as part of a pilot project to identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases to help quickly isolate and prevent further spread of the virus. Testing of K-12 teachers, staff and administrators will begin this week in the Fargo, West Fargo and Dickinson school districts. Testing is highly recommended in order to proactively isolate positive cases and keep educational spaces safe for students and staff. Staff members who work closely with students are strongly encouraged to participate weekly. Testing is limited to K-12 personnel; students will not be tested. The plan is to test teachers, staff and administrators weekly until December 31, 2020.

On November 20, the Behavioral Health Division reminded residents of the Parents Lead website offering resources not only for parents but also for community members and professionals. The primary goal of Parents Lead is to provide parents and caregivers with tools and resources to support them in promoting the behavioral health and well-being of their children. Interested individuals can also follow Parents Lead on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

November 17, 2020:

On November 13, Governor Burgum announced several mitigation measures aimed at slowing the accelerating spread of COVID-19 in North Dakota in order to protect the vulnerable, ensure hospital capacity and keep schools and the economy open.

The measures include a State Health Officer order requiring face coverings to be worn in indoor businesses and indoor public settings as well as outdoor public settings where physical distancing isn’t possible. The order, signed by interim State Health Officer Dirk Wilke, is effective from November 14 through December 13. It includes exceptions for children under age 5, individuals with a medical or mental health condition or disability that makes it unreasonable to wear a mask, and religious services.

Burgum signed an executive order to implement the other mitigation measures, which take effect Monday, November 16, and are as follows:

  • All bars, restaurants and food service establishments are limited to 50 percent of their licensed seated capacity, not to exceed 150 patrons, and are closed to in-person service between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Take-out, curbside and delivery will still be allowed during those hours, and Burgum encouraged North Dakotans to take advantage and support local businesses.
  • For those that were already following the ND Smart Restart recommendations of 25 percent capacity in high-risk counties, the change will allow them to safely welcome more customers into their establishments with masking and distancing requirements.
  • All banquet, ballroom and event venues are limited to 25 percent of their maximum occupancy, not to exceed new capacity limits that have been established with input from venues and local public health officials based on the size of the venue. Physical distancing and masks will be required for the safety of all venue personnel and patrons.
  • Playoff championship contests and performance events sponsored by the North Dakota High School Activities Association during the month of November may continue under NDHSAA requirements. All high school winter sports and other extracurricular K-12 school activities are suspended until December 14. This also applies to all association, community and club sports for youth and adults.
  • College and intercollegiate activities must follow guidance from the North Dakota University System and their respective national organizations.
  • Industries not covered by the executive order should continue to follow the North Dakota Smart Restart guidelines.

Burgum noted the state will soon make $54 million available through a hospitality grant program to help these businesses navigate this challenging time, and has made $70 million available through the Bank of North Dakota to buy down interest on eligible existing debt for any business whose revenue was impacted negatively by COVID-19.

On October 28, the North Dakota Department of Commerce announced the second round of the Economic Resiliency Grant (ERG) otherwise known as the Hospitality ERG. On November 17, the Department of Commerce announced that the Hospitality Economic Resiliency Grant (HERG) application will begin on November 20 at 10 a.m. CST and will close on December 4 at 5 p.m. CST. Due to the continuing need of assistance, the Department of Commerce created the HERG focus on reimbursing hospitality businesses that were directly impacted by Executive Order 2020-06. This includes all restaurants, bars, breweries, cafes and similar on-site dining establishments.

Eligible entities also include theaters, drama, music and entertainment venues, as well as professional production companies who support major venues, meetings and events.

Hotels with restaurants, bars, coffee shops and or banquets/meeting space may apply for a grant using the operational expenses from those specific operations. The receipts must clearly show this connection such as food costs or staffing.

Funds must be used to reimburse eligible entities for costs in operations, like payroll, rent, utilities, and other expenses that comply with CARES Act federal and/or CDC guidelines that have resulted due to the closures and lack of consumer confidence to return to the marketplace. Eligible expenses must have been incurred on or after March 27, 2020, and no later than date of application. Additional information is here.

Applicants may receive up to $25,000 and eligible entities with multiple locations may receive up to $75,000. A max of $25,000 will be allowed per location. Grant recipients are required to comply with ND Smart Restart protocols. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Funding will be approved if the application meets all criteria and funding is available. Additional information is available at here.

On November 9, Governor Burgum announced steps to help reduce the pressure on North Dakota hospital and health care workers as a result of increasing hospitalization for COVID-19 and other care needs. To help address staffing issues, Burgum announced an amended State Health Officer order that now allows asymptomatic, COVID-19-positive health care workers to work in the COVID unit of a licensed health care facility, so long as they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are taken as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) to protect the worker and the community.

On November 3, Governor Burgum announced that $2.5 million in emergency grant relief has been awarded to North Dakota colleges and universities to support modified learning and workforce training enhancements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 40 proposals were received totaling more than $7.5 million for the competitive grants. Grants awarded will provide the needed resources to enhance training for students in the health care, manufacturing and energy industries, fund technology improvements needed for modified classrooms and support the creation of curriculum to adapt to education during and after the pandemic. A list of the grant awards is available here.

On October 23, the North Dakota Emergency Commission approved the reallocation of turned-back federal funding to support the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, directing nearly $221 million to K-12 school districts, cities and counties, businesses including the hospitality industry, hospitals, and other programs. North Dakota received $1.25 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund as part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act - the $221 million is what was turned back from the previously allocated federal funding. The allocation will be divided between schools, law enforcement payroll, and business recovery efforts.

October 21, 2020:

On October 20, Governor Burgum and the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) announced changes to the state’s contact tracing process to more quickly notify individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

To reduce the backlog and shorten notification times:

  • The North Dakota National Guard has shifted 50 soldiers from contacting close contacts to notifying positive individuals. By refocusing these resources, the backlog of notifications should be eliminated by October 22.

  • Close contacts will no longer be contacted by public health officials; instead, positive individuals will be instructed to self-notify their close contacts and direct them to the NDDoH website, where landing pages will be created with video and written resources explaining the recommended and required actions for both positive patients and close contacts. The exception is contact tracing for health care settings, K-12 schools and university systems which will continue as usual.

  • The state is building a process to deliver automated notifications to positive individuals. Currently, the system only delivers automated notifications to individuals with negative test results. Positive patients will still receive a follow-up call from a case investigator after their initial automated notification.

October 15, 2020:

On October 14, Governor Burgum announced updates to the ND Smart Restart guidelines to help reverse the trend of rising COVID-19 cases and reduce the spread of coronavirus in communities. Effective 5:00 p.m. Friday, October 16, the updated ND Smart Restart guidelines are as follows for counties under these risk designations:

  • Critical (red): Non-essential businesses closed;
  • High (orange): 25% occupancy with a cap of 50 people (changed from non-essential businesses closed); encourage businesses to require face coverings;
  • Moderate (yellow): 50% occupancy with a cap of 100 people (down from 250), encourage businesses to require face coverings;
  • Low (green): 75% occupancy with a cap of 200 people (down from 500); and
  • New Normal (blue): operate as usual.

The updated ND risk-level map is available here. Other important notes related to Governor Burgum’s announcement include the following details:

  • 16 counties are being moved into the high-risk (orange) level, which now recommends reduced occupancy rather than business closures.
  • Nine counties are moving from low risk to moderate risk, and two are moving from the new normal to low risk.
  • The changes to county risk levels are specific to large gatherings and businesses, not the instructional model within K-12 schools.
  • Larger indoor and outdoor gatherings are permitted if approved by community leaders and the local health authority; however:
    • community leaders may require event planners to submit a logistics and emergency operations plan to their local health authority no later than 30 days prior to the event; and
    • the ND Smart Restart recommendations are intended to supplement and not replace local requirements.

October 6, 2020:

On October 6, the North Dakota Department of Human Services announced a temporary Pandemic Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (P-LIHEAP) that will provide one-time help with the cost of electric utility bills for qualifying households. To qualify for the one-time $460 payment, a household must have participated in the state’s regular heating assistance program through the 2019-2020 heating season, which ended Sept. 30, 2020. Renters whose electricity utility costs were included in their rent do not qualify. An estimated 12,400 North Dakota households could benefit from the program, which is funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The department is mailing a notice to households that may qualify, which informs them how to register. The deadline to register is October 31, and individuals who need assistance with the registration should contact the department’s Economic Assistance Program at 701-328-3513 or [email protected]

On October 6, State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced that the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, the state Department of Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are providing almost 160,000 cloth masks for students and faculty. The allocation is based on North Dakota’s number of students from low-income families. The emphasis is on first providing masks to students who come from low-income households, and/or who are at higher risk. Shipments of large masks, for use for adults and students in grades 7-12, are being distributed beginning this week. Smaller masks, which are intended for students in grades K-6, will be distributed once they arrive in North Dakota. The masks are being sent to public school districts, which will be responsible for sharing them with nonpublic schools in their communities.

October 1, 2020:

On October 1, the North Dakota Department of Commerce announced that the Economic Resiliency Grant (ERG) has reached important milestones since the program’s opening for applications in August. The department reported it has successfully adjudicated more than half of the applications received, totaling more than $20 million awarded to 1,000 North Dakota businesses.

The ERG is a grant opportunity designed by Commerce to enhance revenue in both the immediate and long-term future by growing consumer confidence for businesses that drive consumers to the marketplace. Commerce Director of Economic Development and Finance James Leiman added that funding will be approved if the application meets all criteria and funding is available. Applicants are encouraged check back frequently for criteria that aligns with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Additional information can be found here.

On October 1, Governor Burgum and the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH) announced updated guidance for the quarantining of individuals who are identified as close contacts to COVID-19 positive individuals.

The guidance has been updated to reflect that in non-health care, non-residential settings, when the positive case and close contact have both been wearing a face covering consistently and correctly for the entire time, the close contact will not need to self-quarantine at home.

The quarantine exception includes, but may not be limited to:

  • Childcare centers where staff and older children (age 2 or above) are able to wear a mask.
  • Group homes
  • K-12 schools and preschools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Work settings
  • Social interactions
  • Other settings where both the infected person and contact were masked during the exposure.

Close contacts who meet the quarantine exception should still self-monitor, which means wearing a face covering and keeping a close eye out for any symptoms, said Kirby Kruger, an epidemiologist and director of the NDDOH Division of Disease Control. The complete guidance can be found here.

September 28, 2020:

On September 26, the amended State Health Officer order 2020-06.01 was rescinded, removing the requirement that “close contacts” of COVID-19 positive patients quarantine pursuant to order #2020.06.1. See the full order #2020-06.2 here.

On September 23, the State Health Officer order #2020-06 was amended so that, in addition to “household contacts” all “close contacts” of COVID-19 positive patients would be required to quarantine.

September 21, 2020:

On September 21, interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani lifted the 14-day quarantine order for those returning from international travel. The original order was given on April 8 and was last amended on July 28. Dr. Mariana cautioned that “individual countries may have their own restrictions that impact travel” and to “check with your destination’s Ministry of Health for the most up-to-date information.”

September 17, 2020:

The North Dakota Department of Health and the North Dakota National Guard are sponsoring a free COVID-19 testing event this Saturday, September 19 in Trenton and in Grand Forks. This is an ongoing effort to provide free testing to as many individuals as possible. Information on all testing events can be found here.

September 9, 2020:

On September 9, the North Dakota Department of Commerce announced award recipients of the ND Smart Restart Technical Skills Training Grant. The Department has approved $1 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to administer the ND Smart Restart Technical Skills Training Grant, which is designed to support accelerated skills-based and hands-on workforce training programs that prepare displaced workers for full-time employment in North Dakota.

Grant recipients in the first round of funding:

  • Emerging Digital Academy software development training, $100,000
  • North Dakota State College of Science – TrainND CDL training, $30,000
  • NESET Consulting Services Tioga Wind Turbine Technician Training, $48,265
  • Sanford Health nursing assistant training, $100,000

Funding is still available, and a second application window is open now through September 23, 2020. New programs and existing programs that began after March 1, 2020, may qualify for this grant to support operating expenses and scholarships for participants.

More information and the application for the ND Smart Restart Technical Skills Training Grant can be found here.

September 3, 2020:

On September 3, Governor Burgum announced changes to the COVID-19 risk levels for 21 of North Dakota’s 53 counties under the ND Smart Restart Plan. Eight counties – Barnes, Benson, Burleigh, Grand Forks, McLean, Morton, Stark and Williams – are moving from the low risk level (green) to the moderate risk level (yellow) under the ND Smart Restart color-coded health guidance. These counties currently account for 64 percent of North Dakota’s 2,437 active cases.

The county-by-county risk levels will take effect Friday, September 3 at 5 p.m. For those moving from low risk to moderate risk, the recommendation for capacity in bars and restaurants decreases from 75 percent to 50 percent and the recommendation for large gatherings would decrease from 75 percent occupancy up to 500 attendees, to 50 percent occupancy up to 250 attendees

The governor also signed two executive orders today:

  • Executive Order 2020-40 allows qualified applicants wanting to practice dentistry in North Dakota to complete their patient-based clinical competency exam on a mannequin instead of a live patient, reducing the risk of virus spread.
  • Executive Order 2020-42 allows for interim substitute teachers to remain in a classroom beyond the current limitation of 10 consecutive days.

September 2, 2020:

The North Dakota Department of Health, in coordination with the North Dakota University System (“NDUS”), is encouraging students at colleges and universities to stay on campus for the Labor Day holiday. “We are concerned that students [who have a propensity for being asymptomatic] who travel home may unintentionally infect a family member. If we all work together and keep doing our part, we can fight the spread COVID-19” stated NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott. The NDUS, in collaboration with the North Dakota Department of Health, continues to hold mass testing events for COVID-19 in multiple locations across the state.

September 1, 2020:

On August 31, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor announced that North Dakota’s application for a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program had been approved. FEMA’s grant funding will allow North Dakota to provide $300 per week -- on top of their regular unemployment benefit -- to those unemployed due to COVID-19. FEMA will work with North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum to implement a system to make this funding available to North Dakota residents.

August 31, 2020:

On August 26, Governor Burgum announced that North Dakota has applied to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance program created by President Donald Trump to ease the economic burden for those who have lost their employment because of the coronavirus pandemic. Job Service North Dakota submitted the state’s application to FEMA to participate in the program which provides an additional $300 to $400 per week in supplemental unemployment benefits, as part of FEMA’s authorization to spend up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund. “This program will provide much-needed assistance to North Dakotans who are facing unemployment through no fault of their own,” Burgum said.

To be eligible for Lost Wages Assistance, workers must self-certify that they were unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the initial unemployment insurance claims process or their required weekly recertifications. Burgum noted that North Dakota also reinstated its work registration and search requirements at the end of July for those seeking unemployment, after having suspended them in March when the pandemic hit North Dakota.

On August 25, the North Dakota Department of Human Services announced the creation of a new toolkit for parents of school-aged children called Parenting During a Pandemic. The North Dakota Behavior Health Division continues to develop new resources for not only parents, also for community members and professionals, making them available online at

August 17, 2020:

On August 13, Governor Burgum announced the launch of the new Care19 Alert smartphone app designed to notify users of possible COVID-19 exposure while protecting their privacy with technology developed by Apple and Google. North Dakota-based ProudCrowd LLC developed Care19 Alert in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Health using federal funding. The free app is available to download through the App Store and the Google Play Store. Care19 Alert is the only app in North Dakota allowed to use the exposure notification system (ENS) application programming interface (API) jointly created by Apple and Google. 

August 12, 2020:

On August 10, Governor Burgum announced an extended renewal deadline for driver’s licenses that have expired during the COVID-19 emergency, a new precision online learning tool for K-12 schools, and the launch of the “Mask Up ND” public awareness campaign.

The renewal deadline for driver’s licenses that expired March 1, 2020, or later has been extended, and the new deadlines will follow a phased schedule. The executive order signed by Governor Burgum takes the place of Executive Order 2020-36, which extended expiration dates for vehicle registration and driver’s licenses to August 31. The new executive order directs North Dakota law enforcement agencies and private sector businesses to recognize any North Dakota driver’s license that expired after March 1, 2020, or a license that will expire by December 31, 2020, as valid, based upon the renewal schedule below:

  • Licenses which expired in March, April or May 2020 must be renewed no later than September 30, 2020.
  • Licenses which expired in June 2020 must be renewed no later than Oct. 31, 2020.
  • Licenses which expired, or will expire, in July, August, September or October 2020 must be renewed no later than November 30, 2020.
  • Licenses which expire in November and December 2020 must be renewed no later than December 31, 2020.

The deadline for renewing vehicle registrations remains August 31.

Governor Burgum also announced that the Governor’s Office and the Department of Public Instruction are partnering to make available a next-generation precision online learning tool, called Exact Path, for reading, language arts and mathematics during the 2020-2021 school year. Exact Path, an award-winning program of Edmentum Inc., will provide precise and actionable academic pathways for students based on their current progress and create a road map to guide them to grade-level proficiency and North Dakota Choice Readiness. This voluntary tool will be offered to all North Dakota K-12 residents.

Lastly, Governor Burgum announced the “Mask Up ND” public awareness campaign.

The North Dakota Department of Health created a webpage where members of the public can download images to share on social media platforms. The webpage also provides links to useful information, resources and articles about the importance of wearing masks in public during the pandemic.

August 4, 2020:

On August 3rd, the North Dakota Emergency Commission allocated federal funding to support the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, directing nearly $320 million to cities and counties, public health services, unemployment insurance, and other programs.

July 29, 2020:

On July 28, Governor Burgum signed Executive Order 2020-12.2, ordering that the eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, under Executive Order 2020-12.1, be extended to individuals employed by:

  • A provider of treatment, care, programs or services to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, or
  • The Life Skills and Transition Center.

Coverage is extended to those employees who provide direct care and services to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, if the employee is exposed to, or diagnosed with COVID-19 resulting from contact with an individual to whom services are provided.

On July 28, Governor Burgum also signed Executive Order 2020-20.1, extending the temporary suspension of in-person continuing education requirements for licensing renewals of health care personnel, to include nursing home administrators.

(Burleigh and Morton Counties):

On July 28, Governor Burgum announced the formation of a task force to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Burleigh and Morton counties including the Bismarck-Mandan metro area, which have seen sharp increases in COVID-19 cases recently.

July 28, 2020:

The North Dakota Department of Commerce announced the Economic Resiliency Grant program available to private companies licensed to do business in North Dakota for costs associated with improvements to their businesses for the purpose of reducing the spread of infection, and instilling consumer confidence in the marketplace. Grants will be awarded at up to $50,000 per eligible business and up to $100,000 per eligible business with multiple locations.

Eligibility depends on whether the entity has consumers and a marketplace. For that reason, businesses are not eligible if they do not have live customer interaction, are at-home businesses, or were able to relocate employees to remote workplaces while maintaining productivity.

There will be three application rounds or applications will be received until the money runs out, whichever is sooner. The application rounds will occur on the following dates:

  • Round 1
    • Applications opens - date to be announced
    • Deadline August 17, 2020
    • Awardees announced by September 11, 2020
    • Funds dispersed by September 25, 2020
  • Round 2
    • Application Opens September 14, 2020
    • Deadline September 25, 2020
    • Awardees announced by October 16, 2020
    • Funds dispersed by October 28, 2020
  • Round 3 – if applicable

In the application process, businesses will be required to make a number of certifications, including but not limited to:

  • Being registered to do business in ND, having one or more permanent physical locations in ND, and having been financially solvent prior to March, and having been negatively financially impacted by COVID-19.
  • That the money will be used for approved expenses only, and return the difference, if applicable.

After the funds are distributed, businesses will have obligations, such as:

  • Using funds as proposed within 45 days,
  • Submitting documentation to support expenditures (or return funds),
  • Adding NDSmart Restart webpage “badge” and materials,
  • Self-Certificating compliance with NDSmart Restart Protocol.

July 15, 2020:

On July 14, Governor Burgum announced the release of the K-12 Smart Restart guidelines for schools to assist with fall reopening plans. The guidelines say that schools may re-open in-person, virtually, or on a basis that is a hybrid of the two. The guidelines promote local control and decision-making, by putting authority in the hands of school boards and administrators. Those decision-makers will be in consultation with local public health units.

July 9, 2020:

On July 8, Governor Burgum signed an executive order restoring the work registration and search requirements for individuals seeking unemployment benefits, effective July 26.

June 24, 2020:

On June 23, Governor Burgum signed an executive order postponing the renewal date for motor vehicle registrations and driver licenses that expired on or after March 1, 2020. The new renewal date is August 31, 2020.

June 22, 2020:

The North Dakota Emergency Commission announced it will direct $406 million in federal stimulus money towards the state’s COVID-19 response. The state received $1.25 billion from Congress when it passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The funds will be used to support economic recovery programs and the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

June 8, 2020:

Governor Burgum signed an executive order that modifies restrictions on visitation at long-term care facilities in North Dakota during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing for a phased approach to resuming visitation as outlined in the ND Smart Restart.

June 1, 2020:

Governor Burgum announced North Dakota will move to the next phase of its ND Smart Restart plan. Under the color-coded health guidance system in the ND Smart Restart plan, the change announced today moves the state out of the yellow, or moderate, risk level, and into the green, or low-risk, level – one level before the blue “new normal” level.

Notable aspects of the green risk level include:

  • The recommendation for capacity in bars and restaurants increases from 50 percent to 75 percent.
  • The recommendation for banquets/weddings increases from 50 percent occupancy up to 250 attendees, to 75 percent occupancy up to 500 attendees.
  • Recommended movie theater capacity increases from 20 percent to 65 percent.
  • Fitness centers may consider holding classes with high inhalation/exhalation exchange with social distancing, whereas those classes were not recommended under the yellow level.

May 20, 2020:

Governor Burgum announced an emergency rule change that allows residents of basic care facilities to keep their Economic Impact Payments provided as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

A basic care facility is like a nursing home, but for seniors whose medical needs are not as intense. North Dakota is the only state with basic care facilities, and the state pays a portion of the resident’s room and board. Economic Impact Payments made to basic care residents are income kept by the state under current law, which is not what was intended under the CARES Act.

The Governor’s emergency rule, effective May 19, changes that result and is and will remain in effect as it moves through the formal administrative rules process.

May 17, 2020:

Governor Burgum announced guidelines for large gatherings, banquets, ballrooms and event venues as part of the ND Smart Restart Plan. Under the recommendations, large gatherings in facilities can be up to 50 percent of their certificate of occupancy, up to 250 people. The governor amended an executive order to strongly encourage the adoption of the large gathering protocols by recreational and sports arenas and music and entertainment venues, which had been closed under the previous order.

May 12, 2020:

Governor Burgum and State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced that beginning June 1, North Dakota schools will be allowed to host a number of activities, including summer school and college admissions testing. Students will also be allowed back in school buildings from May 15 to May 30 to retrieve their belongings and bring back any equipment that should be returned.

Governor Burgum said he will amend a previous executive order that has barred students from using school facilities for in-person instruction, while allowing those facilities to be used for graduation ceremonies.

May 3, 2020:

Governor Burgum announced that his executive order, which directed schools to begin distance learning, will remain in effect through the end of the school year.

April 30, 2020:

Governor Burgum signed an amended executive order providing additional guidance for businesses who are reopening. The original protocols under the North Dakota Smart Restart included operating standards for all industries, as well as specific guidance for several high-contact business sectors including restaurants and bars; hair, nail and tanning salons and other cosmetology-related businesses; tattoo and body piercing businesses; massage therapy facilities; and fitness centers. The amended executive order adds guidelines for movie theaters, including limiting capacity and group sizes, allowing for proper spacing between groups and staggering showtimes to decrease congestion in common areas.

These businesses, which experienced temporary closures or access restrictions under the previous executive order that expires Thursday, April 30, may begin to re-open at 8 a.m. Friday, May 1, if the ND Smart Restart standard procedures and industry-specific rules are adopted and rigorously followed.

April 28, 2020:

Governor Burgum announced he intends to let Executive Order 2020-06.3 expire on April 30 if current favorable trends hold during the next couple of days. The order requires the closure of recreational facilities, health clubs and athletic facilities; theaters, including movie theaters and music/entertainment venues; bars and restaurants except for take-out, delivery, curbside and drive-through; licensed cosmetologists, including salons and barber shops; and personal care services including tattoo parlors, tanning and massage facilities.

The order will be replaced with an order allowing those businesses to voluntarily reopen under Phase 1 rules in the North Dakota Smart Restart plan.

April 23, 2020:

Governor Burgum and Major General Alan Dohrmann, director of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, announced they outlined a plan to significantly increase testing capacity for COVID-19, which is a critical component for protecting vulnerable populations and reopening businesses in the state.

April 16, 2020:

Governor Burgum signed an amended executive order extended access restrictions on certain businesses for an additional 10 days and outlined a path forward for them to reopen. The businesses that must remain closed include recreational facilities, health clubs and athletic facilities; theaters, including movie theaters and music/entertainment venues; bars and restaurants except for take-out, delivery, curbside and drive-through; licensed cosmetologists, including salons and barber shops; and personal care services including tattoo parlors, tanning and massage facilities.

The governor outlined what needs to be in place to have a graduated reopening process past April 30:

  • Robust, widespread rapid testing capacity
  • Robust contact tracing and infrastructure
  • Targeted, effective quarantine
  • Protections for the state’s most vulnerable populations
  • Sufficient health care capacity, hospital/ICU beds
  • Adequate PPE availability for the health care system and public
  • New standard operating procedures for reopening
  • Plans for dealing with a resurgence or additional waves of COVID-19.

April 15, 2020:

Governor Burgum announced an outline for the finalized hospital surge plan, stressing that it’s the government’s responsibility to plan for the worst-case scenario. The plan is based on three tiers:

  • Tier 1 - 2,098 beds: Existing hospital capacity with current staff, supplies and equipment.
  • Tier 2A - 2,394 beds: Hospitals increase their bed capacity and stretch staff through scheduling, with a surge of equipment from the state medical cache as requests.
  • Tier 2B - 3,488 beds: Hospitals further increase capacity with a surge of equipment, supplies and staff from the state.
  • Tier 3 - 4,000 additional beds: Establishing minimal care facilities that would be used only if hospitals in the region have reached their maximum level of surge capacity with beds, supplies, equipment and staff that can be provided through state resources.

April 14, 2020:

Governor Burgum signed an executive order allowing for changes necessary to maintain critical operations for vulnerable youths being served in Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities and Qualified Residential Treatment Programs. The order accomplishes the following:

  • Suspends state regulations that require routine health care checks that are not available and are not urgent;
  • Allows for alternative service options such as telehealth;
  • Allows for state background checks while national checks are suspended during this emergency.

April 8, 2020:

Governor Burgum issued four executive orders relating to school districts, agribusiness, fuel retailers and others in North Dakota. These actions include:

  • Giving school districts the same flexibility to hold mail ballot-only elections for special elections that was provided for school board elections and the June 2020 election.
  • Suspending the requirement that a school district conduct a written performance review for every teacher, principal and assistant/associate superintendent employed for more than three years. Written performance reviews will still have to be conducted for those employed for less than three years. This provides flexibility for evaluations and will help allow teachers and administrators to continue focusing on providing distance learning to make sure every North Dakota student receives a quality education.
  • Allowing winter-grade fuel to be sold until May 20 instead of the traditional April 1 cutoff date. The state has an oversupply of winter-grade fuel due to the travel restrictions and economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Suspending the pesticide applicator certification for the use of non-restricted disinfectants during this public health emergency.

April 7, 2020:

Governor Burgum signed an executive order, suspending visitation to long-term care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities and basic care facilities.

April 5, 2020:

Governor Burgum announced a new pilot project to expand COVID-19 testing and improve contact tracing to slow the spread of the coronavirus in North Dakota. The pilot project, dubbed “Operation Drive-in,” involves setting up drive-through testing sites in two North Dakota communities, with the goal of testing as many people as possible from those communities – including those showing no symptoms of COVID-19.

April 3, 2020:

Two executive orders were signed. One order temporarily suspends the mandatory one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits. The other order amends Executive Order 2020-06.2 by extending business closures until April 20.

April 2, 2020:

It was announced that President Trump granted Governor Burgum’s request for a major presidential disaster declaration to make federal assistance available to support the state’s response to COVID-19.

The Governor also announced the activation of North Dakota’s Workforce Coordination Center (WCC) to serve emergency workforce needs in support of health care providers, industries and agencies affected by COVID-19. Those who are out of work, retired or just want to help are asked to consider volunteering during this emergency situation. The WCC is seeking both volunteers and paid staff. Applicants will be matched with a business or agency that needs their help.

April 1, 2020:

On March 30, Governor Burgum signed two executive orders and amended an earlier executive order.

  • The amended order allows certain public school districts to open facilities through the month of May, for the limited purpose of providing child care services to children in grades K-5 only, for K-12 teachers and other health, safety and lifeline worker households, as identified by the Department of Human Services.
  • A new executive order suspends the open meeting requirement of a physical meeting room and a speakerphone or monitor at a physical location, when members of the governing body are attending remotely. Meetings of a governing body where members appear remotely must provide a conference dial-in number or an electronic link to real-time or livestream public access.
  • The other new executive order allows temporary suspension of deadlines for public libraries to submit state aid applications and reports. It also extends the deadlines for livestock auction licensing and pesticide application licensing.

March 31, 2020:

Governor Burgum sent President Trump a letter requesting a major disaster declaration to support public infrastructure and facilities; mitigation grants for counties and tribal nations; assistance for individuals and households, and supplemental nutrition and transitional sheltering assistance, among other aid.

March 30, 2020:

Governor Burgum signed an executive order to close multiple groups of businesses, effective 12 a.m. Saturday, March 28, until April 6. The businesses that must close include: restaurants, recreational facilities, cosmetologists, elective personal care services, and state agencies and offices.

In a separate executive order, Governor Burgum also suspended payment of unemployment taxes to allow employers to focus on their businesses and employees. The order suspends payment of unemployment taxes and filing of payroll reports that are due on March 31 for the first quarter of 2020, meaning those payments and reports won’t be due until July 1.

March 27, 2020:

Governor Burgum announced modified operating practices and an emergency grant program for child care providers to help them through the COVID-19 crisis and ensure that child care services are available for health, safety and other lifeline workers. The governor also signed an executive order giving counties the option of mail ballot-only elections to protect public health during the coronavirus emergency.

Additionally, Governor Burgum signed Executive Order 2020-12, which extends workers’ compensation coverage to first responders and health care providers who contract COVID-19 on the job. The order also provides up to 14 days of medical and wage replacement benefits if first responders and health care providers are quarantined. No benefits will be paid after the quarantine period has ended unless the employee tests positive for COVID-19. If the virus is contracted on the job, the employee becomes eligible for full workers’ compensation benefits just like any other compensable work injury claim.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved North Dakota’s request for a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver. The waiver allows North Dakota to provide flexibilities in Medicaid provider screening and enrollment, forgo certain pre-admission screening and annual resident review assessments, lift prior authorization requirements, extend fair hearing and appeals timelines, and modify time frames for tribal consultations for certain COVID-19-related Medicaid State Plan Amendments.

March 26, 2020:

Yesterday, March 25, Governor Burgum signed Executive Order 2020-12, which extends workers’ compensation coverage to first responders and health care providers who contract COVID-19 on the job. The order also provides up to 14 days of medical and wage replacement benefits if first responders and health care providers are quarantined. No benefits will be paid after the quarantine period has ended unless the employee tests positive for COVID-19. If the virus is contracted on the job, the employee becomes eligible for full workers’ compensation benefits just like any other compensable work injury claim.

On March 24, Governor Burgum enacted Executive Order 2020-11 to temporarily lift weight restrictions on North Dakota’s highways to ensure critical sources arrive in a timely manner.

March 25, 2020:

Governor Burgum enacted Executive Order 2020-11 to temporarily lift weight restrictions on North Dakota’s highways to ensure critical sources arrive in a timely manner.

March 21, 2020:

Governor Burgum issued Executive Order 2020-09 to allow emergency prescription refills and permit licensed pharmacists to administer COVID-19 testing.

March 20, 2020: 

The Office of State Tax Commissioner released guidance stating North Dakota’s tax filing deadlines are now aligned with the IRS extension date. Individuals or businesses who are unable to file an income tax return or pay the tax by the April 15th deadline, can file and make payment through July 15, 2020, without penalty and interest.

March 19, 2020:

Governor Burgum signed Executive Order 2020-05 suspending certain licensure requirements for health care and behavioral health care workers to allow them to work in the state if they are appropriately licensed in another state.

In addition, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction published guidance regarding distance learning.

March 18, 2020:

Governor Burgum stated that he will waive all instructional hours scheduled to take place this week, meaning schools do not have to reschedule those hours. This decision will ensure state aid payments to K-12 school districts are not interrupted. The Governor’s Office will not require districts to submit the waiver form (SFN 51826 (03-2020)) for the instructional hours lost between March 16 and March 20.

March 14, 2020:

To slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Burgum issued Executive Order 2020-04 to close all K-12 schools from March 16 to March 20.

March 12, 2020: 

Governor Burgum released recommendations for events and public gatherings in light of COVID-19. The recommendations outline different strategies for events and public gatherings based on three levels of risk, or thresholds.