Burgum declares statewide flood emergency due to spring flooding

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum issued an executive order April 24 declaring a statewide flood emergency for spring flooding that has caused an estimated $7 million in infrastructure damage so far.

The executive order officially puts all state agencies, including the North Dakota National Guard, on standby to provide resources and capabilities as needed, although the state has been mobilizing public and private partners to prepare for and assist in the flood fight since December through a whole-of-government approach.

“Overland flooding and near-record river crests have caused extensive damage to state, county, city and township roads at a time when the state is also responding to the catastrophic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and extremely challenging economic conditions,” Burgum said.

Photo caption: Flood waters wash over N.D. Highway 56, south of Gackle, North Dakota (Photo by Poppy Mills, N.D. Department of Transportation).

north dakota officials outline plan to expand testing capacity for covid-19

Gov. Doug Burgum and Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, director of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, outlined a plan April 22 to significantly increase testing capacity for COVID-19, a critical component for protecting vulnerable populations and reopening businesses in the state.

“Widespread rapid testing is one of the key elements for our step-by-step plan for a North Dakota Smart Restart,” Burgum said. “We’re grateful to our State Lab and partners across the state who are working to expand testing capacity and contact tracing to protect lives and livelihoods.”
“North Dakota has a strong testing strategy that is focused around testing several core groups including health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities, and other vulnerable populations,” said Dohrmann, co-leader of the Unified Command for the state’s COVID-19 response. “Testing efforts also are being focused around large businesses that have seen positive cases of COVID-19, as well as their close contacts, in an effort to mitigate large outbreaks.”

The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) State Lab added nine lab professionals to help meet a goal of expanding to 1,800 tests per day by April 30. The lab has six additional pieces of equipment on order and hopes to increase capacity to 3,000 tests per day next month, Dohrmann said. The lab also has added space to increase capacity, with new equipment being installed today, and is in the process of validating serology testing that looks for the presence of antibodies, which also will play an important role in fully reopening the economy.

Photo caption: Chantel Vazquez, a registered nurse working with the North Dakota Department of Health, takes a swab sample April 23 from an asymptomatic Grand Forks Fire Department Fire Fighter who is volunteering to take a COVID-19 test in the parking lot of the Alerus Center, Grand Forks, North Dakota, as Maj. Preston Schaffner, of the 81st Civil Support Team, North Dakota National Guard, assists her. They are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to stay safe while they work and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while testing people as they drive up in their vehicles. Schaffner is just one of the many N.D. National Guard members partnering with the N.D. Department of Health and other civilian agencies in support of the whole-of-community response to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 700 people were tested during the 5-hour testing event (U.S. Air National Guard photo by David H. Lipp).

State Radio holds annual fundraiser during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

In addition to their day-to-day duties serving the citizens and emergency responders of North Dakota, the dispatch team at North Dakota State Radio this year raised more than $4,100 for a county deputy in need during this year’s National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (NPSTW) held April 12 -18. State Radio runs a fundraiser annually to coincide with NPSTW, using the funds to benefit a partner agency in law enforcement or other first responders.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team hosted an online fundraiser, which was used to aid Williams County Deputy Rick Haakenson. Haakenson has been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). There are fewer than 200,000 cases of CLL diagnosed nationally each year and most of those cases are men at or near the age of 60. At 45, a diagnosis for a man of Haakenson’s age is not common.

“We were afraid with COVID that we wouldn’t be as successful as previous years, but this was one of our most successful years, so that is very exciting. We are always blown away by the support for our fundraisers every year,” said Shanna Johnson, State Radio dispatch supervisor.

NPSTW is a time to celebrate and thank those who dedicate their lives to serving the public. It is a week set aside so everyone can be made aware of dispatchers’ hard work and dedication.

Stacy Palm gets some steps in on a newly installed treadmill workstation at the State Radio Dispatch Center. The team has been working to get the treadmill for a few years and say it’s a nice addition, especially for enhancing health and wellness while still serving North Dakotans.
Help save lives by reducing the spread of COVID-19. Be part of the solution and download the #Care19 app today! #InThisTogetherND https://belegendary.link/Care19

The Fargo Police Department demonstrates how they keep their officers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic using personal protective equipment, including surgical masks, N95 respirator masks and protective glasses. The department works closely with city, state and public health officials to ensure the protection of its staff and the community they serve.