KHRT ND News

KHRT NEWS – MONDAY – 092820 – 1200
 
BISMARCK, ND – COVID-19 hospitalizations are at a record 105 and deaths up to 234. Today’s report from the North Dakota Department of Health lists those in the hospital up 9 and deaths increase by three. The deaths were a man in his 80’s from Burleigh County, a woman in her 60’s from Burleigh County, and a man in his 80’s from Rolette County. All had underlying health conditions. In the last four weeks there have been 91 deaths of people who tested positive in North Dakota.
 
Today’s report also lists 260 positives from 3,991 tests for a daily positive rate of 6.72%. Those recovered is 353 with active cases down 97 today.
 
Totals have active cases at 3,669. 20,983 positives have come from 626,289 tests processed. 17,080 have recovered from the virus.
Burleigh County tallied 69 positives today; Cass with 56; Williams had 28; Stark with 23; Morton tallied 19; Ward had 15; Emmons and Grand Forks with 5 each; Richland tallied 4; Bowman, McKenzie, Mercer, Mountrail, Rolette, Traill, and Walsh with 3 each; LaMoure, McLean, and Sioux had 2 each; Benson, Bottineau, Dunn, Foster, Golden Valley, Pembina, Pierce, Renville, and Stutsman counties with one each.
 
Burleigh County is up to 719 active cases, followed by Cass with 528, then Stark at 416; Morton with 269; Williams at 243, Grand Forks at 226, and Ward with 212.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A Republican state representative wants to become North Dakota’s next state health officer, a position from which three people have resigned during the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.
 
Rep. Rick Becker, who is a plastic surgeon in Bismarck, has a plan for addressing COVID-19 which would be a major shift from the state’s practices so far. Becker calls for eliminating mass testing, contact tracing, guidelines for businesses and marketing campaigns for masking and social distancing. In regards to education, Becker would allow students, kindergarten through high school, to be back in the classroom full-time, five days a week, with optional masking, plastic partitions for teachers and livestreamed classes for students whose parents choose to keep them home, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
 
Interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani abruptly resigned after a quarantine order for close contacts was rescinded one day after it was announced. The quarantine order included a potential misdemeanor charge for close contacts to coronavirus cases who failed to quarantine for 14 days. That caused a public outcry and prompted Republican legislative leaders to ask the governor to remove the legal penalty. Mariani is the third North Dakota State Health Officer to resign amid the coronavirus pandemic, following Mylynn Tufte and Dr. Andrew Stahl, but his tenure was by far the shortest at 12 days.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The North Dakota Supreme Court says a North Dakota Republican lawmaker whose residence was challenged by Democrats is eligible for reelection. Kenton Onstad, who chairs the District 4 Democratic Party, had filed a lawsuit earlier this month asserting that Terry Jones is a resident of Wyoming, where he owns a farming, ranching and construction business. Jones argued that he owns a home in New Town, pays North Dakota income tax, and has led a congregation at a Mormon church there for years. In a ruling issued Friday, the high court cited 10 factors that favor Jones, including a state court complaint he filed in 2019 in which he swore under oath that he was a resident of Mountrail County.
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) – A suspended driver is facing a list of possible charges after leading officers on a chase in Grand Forks. The 51-year-old man was known to be a suspended driver when officers tried to stop him about 3:30 AM today, police said.
 
The driver pulled over, got out of his pickup as officers stopped him, but then got back behind the wheel and sped away, according to authorities. Officers used a blocking maneuver to bring the man’s vehicle to a stop and detain him. He was taken to Altru Hospital to be evaluated after complaining of neck pain.
 
Police are recommending charges of fleeing, reckless endangerment, driving under the influence and under a suspended license, possessing methamphetamine, LSD and marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
 
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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KHRT NEWS – MONDAY – 092820 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota’s active cases of the coronavirus rose by nearly 100 in the last day and four new deaths due to complications of the virus were reported Sunday by state health officials.
 
The fatalities included a man in his 60s from Bottineau County, a woman in her 80s from Bottineau County, a man in his 60s from Stark County and a man in his 90s from Ward County. All of them had underlying health conditions, officials said.
 
The state reported 343 new COVID-19 cases in the last day, for a total of 20,724 cases since the pandemic began. There are currently 3,766 active cases, an increase of 94 from Saturday. The death toll stands at 231.
 
Hospitalizations, which on Saturday topped 100 for the first time, dropped by eight to 96.
 
The update showed eight counties with cases in double figures. Cass County listed 58, Burleigh County 57, Stark County 31, Grand Forks
County 22, Ward County 22, Ramsey County 20, Emmons County 19, and Williams County 13.
 
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota reported 497 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, contributing to an all-time high for active coronavirus cases statewide at 3,672.
 
The state also reported one of the largest single-day tallies for deaths from COVID-19 with eight people dying from the disease. The waves of cases and hospitalizations have prompted concerns that hospitals are nearing their capacity, the Bismark Tribune reported.
 
There are currently 104 people in hospitals statewide with COVID-19. They occupy roughly 5% of the state’s total hospital beds, but employees of hospitals in the Bismark area told the COVID-19 task force for Burleigh and Morton counties that the influx in patients has disrupted hospital operations.
 
North Dakota has reported the nation’s highest number of new cases per capita in the last two weeks, at roughly 684 new cases per 100,000 people.
 
The Department of Health reported the results of 7,747 total tests and a positivity rate of 6.9%.
 
Over the course of the pandemic, 20,380 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. About 81% of those people have fully recovered, but 3,672 have active infections and 227 have died.
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MINOT, N.D. (AP) – A group of Minot High School honors biology students have volunteered to help with a water study that stretches from the United States to Canada. The project by the Lake Winnipeg Foundation is meant to evaluate phosphorus and dissolved oxygen levels in a portion of Souris River drainage that eventually merges with Canadian waters, the Minot Daily News reported.
 
Biology instructor Joe Super said blue-green algae is “the real killer” and data collected by the students will make a difference. “For us it is an educational citizen science project that’s going to have international ramifications,” Super said.
 
Blue-green algae can cause death for animals of all sizes and brings recreational use to a standstill. Phosphorus often triggers unwanted algae blooms.
 
“Phosphorus causes the blue-green algae to grow. When that algae dies the bacteria eats up all the oxygen in the water, creating dead zones,” said sophomore Rachel Markle.
 
Another student, Kaitlyn Starkey, said the project provides local benefits. “I think it’s really important for us to do this because this river is a really important part of our community here,” Starkey said. “To do this we will be able to bring down phosphate rates and also learn how the water quality changes on its route to Canada.”
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FARGO, N.D. (AP) – Police in North Dakota have arrested three people and cited 30 more in connection to a raucous party in Fargo late Friday. Police responded to a large party near the North Dakota State University Campus after receiving a complaint, but many party-goers were not cooperative, KFGO-AM reported. It took 12 officers from the Fargo and university police departments to shut the party down. The citations were for underage drinking. The three people arrested had tried to flee from police officers. Nearly 100 cases of the coronavirus have been reported among North Dakota State University students in the last two weeks.
 
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – SATURDAY – 092620 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum accepted the resignation of Interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani on Friday, thanking him for his leadership of the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH) and appointing NDDOH Chief of Staff Dirk Wilke to fill the role until a replacement can be named.
 
Mariani is the third person to resign from this post since the State of Emergency was declared this spring. With former Officers Mylynn Tufte and Dr. Andrew Stahl, the explanation for their resignations was a return for the private sector. This time, it was a difference in philosophy.
 
An amended State Health Officer order issued Wednesday related to quarantining of close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases was rescinded Thursday.
 
“While the governor and I agreed on the urgent need to isolate positives and quarantine close contacts in accordance with CDC guidelines, and that the amended order’s penalty provision was overly punitive, the circumstances around the handling of the order made my position untenable,” Dr. Mariani said. “I want to thank the Governor for his understanding and for the outstanding team at the North Dakota Department of Health for their professionalism and dedication to the health and safety of North Dakota citizens.”
 
“While Dr. Mariani’s tenure was short, we are grateful for his service and for jumping into the many complexities of this extremely challenging role – including connecting directly with parents, school superintendents, mayors and local public health officials – at a time when our state is facing rising and record COVID-19 cases. We are saddened to see him leave and appreciate his meaningful contributions. Paul is a man of high intelligence and integrity. We agreed that the amended close contact order’s penalty provisions – a misdemeanor as required by current state law – became a large and unforeseen distraction to our mission of slowing the spread of the coronavirus in our state.”
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BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) has been updated on the volume released from the Environmentally Clean System’s saltwater injection facility this week. Originally it was reported as 238 barrels released. The company now estimates the release at 1,215 barrels of brine and 79 barrels of oil. The cause of the release was due to a fire created by a lightning strike. The spill occurred Wednesday approximately 8 miles north of Alexander and impacted a tributary to Camp Creek. Personnel from the NDDEQ have been on-site and are continuing to monitor the investigation and remediation.
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MINOT, ND – The City Council formally approved the 2021 budget on second reading this week. The budget for 2021 does not include any tax increases and stands at $143.5 million, a 47.48 percent reduction from the record $273.3 million budget for 2020. The 2020 mill levy of 121.29 is expected to remain the same for 2021.
 
While the overall budget looks dramatically lower, there are reasons for the decline, notably a drop in large capital projects and a change in the way expenses are represented in the budget. Although the City continues to fund the ongoing flood protection project and the Northwest Area Water Supply project, the money for those projects is no longer included in the city budget at the recommendation of auditors, according to Lakefield. Those figures had been included in the 2020 budget. Much of that money goes directly to pay contractors, and the city doesn’t see much of those funds.
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MINOT, ND – The Magic City Discovery Center announced this week that it had received a nearly $6.3 million federal Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot Program grant to help with the construction of a new building on the city’s north hill.
 
The City of Minot was a key partner on this project, having awarded the Magic City Discovery Center $1 million in community facilities funds and assisting the group by applying for the grant on the group’s behalf.
 
“Talk about a great day,” said Mayor Shaun Sipma at a press conference announcing the grant. “From the City’s side, we have to say thank you for having a vision. Thank you for having the drive. Thank you to all of the community partners that have come together to show why there is so much magic in Minot.”
 
The group anticipates starting construction in the spring of 2021 and opening the center by the end of 2022. The building will be near the Keith White Sertoma Sports Complex, overlooking the city.
 
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – FRIDAY – 092520 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on Thursday congratulated three North Dakota schools for being honored as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2020. Sweetwater Elementary School at Devils Lake and the middle schools on North Dakota’s two U.S. Air Force bases – Nathan Twining at Grand Forks, and Memorial at Minot – are among 367 schools across the country that the U.S. Department of Education has designated as Blue Ribbon schools in 2020. It is the second Blue Ribbon honor for Sweetwater Elementary in the last six years. All three schools were honored as examples of academic excellence.
 
“To be named as a Blue Ribbon school is to be honored as one of our nation’s best,” Baesler said. “The pandemic has not hindered the fantastic teaching and learning that is going on at these schools, whether it is taking place in the classroom or through distance learning.”
“It takes a great deal of effort to become a national Blue Ribbon School, and the teachers and administrators at Sweetwater, Twining and Memorial collaborated, worked as teams, and rose to the occasion,” Baesler said.
 
The Department of Education recognizes public and private schools in which students reach exceptional levels of academic achievement, or record substantial improvements in their students’ learning. Sweetwater, Twining and Memorial were all honored as “exemplary high-performing schools.”
 
Nationwide, 317 public and 50 nonpublic schools were recognized as 2020 Blue Ribbon schools. There are almost 134,000 public and nonpublic schools in the United States, with about 56 million K-12 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Sweetwater Elementary and the Twining and Memorial middle schools have a combined enrollment of about 530 students.
 
“I’m beyond thrilled. Our students and our staff have worked so hard,” said Shari Bilden, principal at Twining Middle School. “We’re also very fortunate to have supportive parents in our community on the base. They do put education first, and they do support us in many ways, and we are very thankful and grateful for that.”
 
The Blue Ribbon award is “going to be a really good morale boost,” Bilden said. “It’s something positive. There have been a lot of stressors. I think the timing is really crucial to be receiving this positive information, this positive award.”
 
Sweetwater Elementary was last honored as a Blue Ribbon School in 2014. Schools that receive the award may not be considered for it for the following five years, which means Sweetwater won a second Blue Ribbon during its first year of eligibility.
 
“It’s not only an honor, it’s a pat on the back to everyone who works so hard to continue to search for and practice the most effective strategies for our kids, not only for our teachers, our paraprofessionals and other staff, but of course, our kids,” said Dr. Debra Follman, Sweetwater’s principal.
 
“We really practice kids first here,” Follman continued. “With the pandemic, people have just pitched right in. Everyone is doing everything they can to keep our kids safe and everyone else safe, and at the same time, make sure our instruction is at the highest level, and learning is at the highest level.”
 
Dr. Stephen Young, principal at Memorial Middle School at the Minot Air Force Base, said the Blue Ribbon award “is really affirming of the work that we do here. To receive it at this time, I think, is especially rewarding. It tells us we’re on the right path. It is a recognition that we’re doing good work.”
 
However, the award also comes with “a challenge to continue that work,” Young said. “We can’t sit back and take it easy at this point. As we think of continuous improvement, the inherent challenge is always to strive to be better.”
 
To be considered for the Blue Ribbon award, a school must complete a comprehensive application that asks for student demographic information, test results, attendance rates, curriculum information, the number of students who have disabilities, and the number who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
 
It asks about the number of teachers, paraprofessionals and school support employees in the school, how administrators and teachers encourage family involvement in education, and each school’s strategy for developing their students’ potential.
 
“There were a lot of things pulling at their time and energy during this past year because of the pandemic,” Baesler said. “these school districts needed to complete a large amount of work and effort in order to prove, and provide the evidence, to the U.S. Department of Education that they were indeed worthy of this distinction.”
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BISMARCK, N.D. – An amended State Health Officer order issued Wednesday related to quarantining of close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases is being rescinded today. The Department of Health clarified that the intent of the order was to align with CDC guidelines, emphasize the urgent need for those exposed to positive individuals to avoid potentially spreading the disease to others, and encourage local officials to work together on the best strategies to combat COVID-19.
 
“This pandemic remains a threat. Nationally, 2.9% of reported COVID-19 cases have resulted in death. While that percentage is just over 1% in North Dakota thanks to strong coronavirus response efforts at the state and local levels, cases continue to rise and our state is on track for a record number of deaths of individuals with COVID-19 in September,” Interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani said. “While this order is being rescinded, we continue to stress the importance of quarantining and isolation to bend the curve back in the right direction in North Dakota. Whenever possible, all close contacts of individuals infected with COVID-19 should avoid contact with others for 14 days past the last day they were in contact with the person who tested positive.”
 
The rescinded order had expanded an existing quarantine order for household contacts to apply to all close contacts, following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. The North Dakota Department of Health has always recommended close contacts quarantine to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but previously the order referred only to household contacts.
 
As required by state law, both the original order and amended order referenced that failure to cooperate with quarantine was punishable by a Class B misdemeanor, though that provision hadn’t been applied since the original order was issued in April. The order continued to allow for essential workforce exemptions for close contacts.
 
“From the beginning, our approach to this pandemic has emphasized personal responsibility and a light touch of government, as evidenced by the fact that we’re one of the most open states, with schools and universities back in session, the economy open and the nation’s sixth-lowest unemployment rate,” Burgum said. “Given the nature of this disease, it takes community collaboration to bend the curve, and in many counties right now as we reach record cases and positive rates, the curve is going the wrong direction. We need a light touch of government with more local leadership and collaboration, and we feel we can better support those efforts by working more closely with local public health and community leaders to identify mitigation strategies that will work and be supported in each community.”
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BISMARCK, N.D. – The National Reporting System notified the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) of a produced water and oil release due to a lightning strike at a saltwater injection facility operated by Environmentally Clean Systems. The spill occurred Wednesday approximately eight miles north of Alexander. The company reported the spill volume to be approximately 10,000 gallons. Initial inspections indicate the spill impacted a tributary to Camp Creek. Personnel from the NDDEQ have been on-site and will continue to monitor the investigation and remediation.
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MINOT, ND – The City of Minot is holding their Household Hazardous Waste Collection event today and tomorrow from 8 am to 5 pm at the City of Minot Public Works building at 1025 31st Street SE. The drive-through event will accept old paints, stains, oil, varnishes and other household hazardous waste. E-waste will also be accepted including TVs, computers, printers, tablets, etc.
 
 
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – THURSDAY – 092420 – 1200
 
 
MINOT, N.D. (AP) – A Minot man has been found guilty of assaulting a Ward County sheriff’s deputy while resisting arrest during a traffic stop. A jury handed down the verdict Wednesday, finding Joshua Lochthowe guilty of felony assault. He was acquitted of driving while intoxicated.
 
According to court documents, the 27-year-old Lochthowe was stopped by Deputy Joseph Jackson last December, assaulted the officer while resisting arrest, then fled in his pickup truck. Jackson’s body camera fell off his vest during the struggle and into the pickup. Authorities say it recorded Lochthowe speeding away from the traffic stop and getting stuck in a gravel pit where he tossed the camera. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4 before Judge Gary Lee.
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BISMARCK, ND – Eight more deaths among those who tested positive for COVID-19 highlights today’s report from the North Dakota Department of Health. From Benson County there was a woman in her 70’s; from Burleigh County a man in his 80’s and woman in her 90’s; from Morton County two men in their 90’s and 70’s, and a woman in her 80’s; and from Ward County a man in his 90’s and woman in her 60’s. It brings the death total to 211.
 
Today’s daily positive rate is 7.09% as 471 positives come from 7,022 tests. That brings the total positives to 19,451 from 603,207 tests processed. Recoveries are up 281 to a total of 15,757. 89 are currently in the hospital, the same as yesterday. Active cases are up 180 to 3,482. The 14 day rolling average is at 6.16%.
 
Burleigh County tallied 118 positives today; Cass had 78; Morton with 43; Stark added 31; Grand Forks tallied 29; Ward had 18; Bottineau, Emmons, and Williams with 12 each; Barnes added 11; McKenzie with 10; Mercer and Richland had 9 each; Eddy and Ramsey with 8 each; Pembina added 7; LaMoure tallied 6; Renville, Stutsman, Traill, and Walsh had 5 each; Logan, Mountrail, and Sargent had 4 each; Rolette with 3; Benson, Nelson, and Towner tallied 2 each; Burke, Divide, Grant, Hettinger, McHenry, McLean, Ransom, Sheridan, and Sioux with one each.
 
Burleigh County now has 705 active cases, Cass has 593, Stark at 301, Morton with 275, Williams at 226, Grand Forks has 220, and Ward with 199.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The owners of a defunct Bismarck spa have been ordered to pay nearly $380,000 for selling gift cards even as they made plans to close the business in 2017. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a civil lawsuit against Jill Becker and Brent Voorhees, owners of Spa D’Athena, accusing them of selling the worthless gift cards and using the money to pay expenses at a separate business owned by Voorhees and to make Becker’s child support payments. While the lawsuit was pending in Burleigh County, the two moved to Nevada and filed for bankruptcy. Officials said it’s unlikely customers will be able to recover the money they spent on the gift certificates.
 
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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KHRT NEWS – THURSDAY – 092420 – 0700
 
MINOT, ND – The North Dakota Highway Patrol has identified the victim of a fatal train crash near Foxholm. Troopers 26-year old Zack Helmers of Kenmare died in the accident on Tuesday. They say Helmers was mowing near the tracks along Highway 52. A witness reported seeing him back up over the tracks and the train collided with Helmers, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The train operator was not hurt. The crash remains under investigation.
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BISMARCK, ND – Governor Doug Burgum held his weekly press conference on Wednesday and made three big announcements.
In response to the latest case data around the state, the governor updated risk level guidance for North Dakota counties. Three counties saw a decrease in their risk level, while 12 have been moved to a higher level with accompanying recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19.
 
The North Dakota Department of Health also adjusted testing and contact tracing strategies to address a recent uptick in cases among long-term care facilities. Burgum says the state’s Vulnerable Population Protection Plan has been identified as one of the best strategies for protecting vulnerable individuals in congregate settings, and this represents an increased emphasis on protecting residents and staff in these facilities.
 
Finally, the state health officer order regarding quarantining has been expanded to include all close contacts. The North Dakota Department of Health has always recommended close contacts quarantine to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but previously the order referred only to household contacts. Burgum says as a close contact, getting tested and quarantining can be inconvenient, but it’s important to the health of your family, community and the state.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – Bond has been set at $1,000,000 for a Williston man accused of murdering a 34-year-old woman over the weekend in what police described as an act of domestic violence. 29-year-old Tevin Freeman is charged with murder in the death of Erica Herrera. Police were called to a Williston apartment shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday on a report that Herrera was not breathing. Authorities say there were “obvious signs of trauma” to Herrera’s head and face and bruises to various parts of her body. A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 21.
 
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – WEDNESDAY – 092320 – 1200
 
 
BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota has surpassed 200 deaths of people who tested positive for COVID-19. Today’s report from the Department of Health lists seven deaths, including a man in his 90’s from Bottineau County, a woman in her 80’s from Burleigh County, a woman in her 90’s from Burleigh County, a man in his 90’s from Morton County, a woman in her 80’s from Morton County, a woman in her 80’s from Stark County, and a woman in her 80’s from Williams County. All had underlying health conditions. Total deaths are now at 203.
 
Today’s daily positive rate is 6.83% as 475 positive come from 7,428 tests processed. Those recovered increases by 256 and active cases are up 210. Those in the hospital is down three to 89.
 
Total active cases is up to 3,302. Positives are at 18,981 from 596,181 tests processed. Those recovered stand at 15,476.
 
Cass County tallied 82 positives today; Burleigh added 79; Williams with 57; Ward added 46; Morton added 30; Stark with 25; McKenzie with 14; McLean had 11; Dunn and Mountrail tallied 10 each; Grand Forks had 9; Renville and Rolette with 8 each; Cavalier and Richland had 7 each; Eddy and Emmons with 6 each; McIntosh, Mercer, Pembina, and Stutsman with 5 each; Bowman and Walsh tallied 4 each; Grant, Sioux, Towner, and Traill with 3 each; LaMoure, Logan, McHenry, Nelson, and Sargent had 2 each; Adams, Barnes, Benson, Bottineau, Burke, Foster, Kidder, Oliver, Ramsey, and Ransom had one each.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – Interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani today amended a state health officer order expanding the quarantine order to all close contacts. This follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. The North Dakota Department of Health has always recommended close contacts quarantine to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but previously the order referred only to household contacts.
 
“Whenever possible, all close contacts of individuals infected with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days past the last day they were in contact with the person who tested positive,” said Mariani. “Individuals who are named as close contacts and comply with their quarantine are actively protecting older adults in their community. These are our parents and grandparents. Quarantine is not convenient, but it is necessary.”
 
The order continues to allow essential workforce exemptions for individuals who are close contacts of people testing positive for COVID-19. Exempt individuals include essential critical infrastructure workers as defined by the United States Department of Homeland Security.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is adjusting COVID-19 testing and contract tracing strategies to address a recent uptick in confirmed coronavirus cases among residents and staff at long-term care facilities.
 
The State Lab is using the state’s Vulnerable Population Protection Plan (VP3) team to assist in strategic adjustments, including:
 
– Testing of long-term care residents and staff has been prioritized over all other testing, and every effort will be made to return results from long-term care tests within 24 hours of testing to allow for immediate isolation and cohorting, or grouping together, of positive residents and staff and quarantine of close contacts.
 
– Contact tracing and follow-up with long-term care residents and health care workers also has been prioritized through the NDDoH.
 
– The NDDoH will begin to implement a plan to use emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and others to conduct test swabbing and is prioritizing approximately 200 nurses from the NDDoH’s Department Operations Center to provide staff coverage as needed in long-term care facilities and other congregate settings.
 
– The federal government is providing the state with Abbott BinaxNOW point-of-care testing that can be used at long-term care facilities that will assist facilities when residents and health care workers present with symptoms.
 
– The state is continuing to look at innovations in long-term care settings relating to screening, testing, disinfection and telehealth to continue to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens.
 
“Protecting the most vulnerable is our top priority in North Dakota’s COVID-19 response, and since the beginning the state has taken proactive measures to safeguard residents and staff in long-term care facilities and other congregate settings,” State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani said. “With these adjustments, we are placing even more emphasis on doing everything we can to protect residents and staff while still allowing for safe, responsible visitation that is so important to residents’ mental health and well-being. The recent increase in cases in these facilities is a reflection of the increased spread of coronavirus in our communities at large, which makes it even more important for North Dakotans to practice good COVID-19 etiquette: social distance, wear a mask, wash hands frequently and avoid large gatherings.”
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MINOT, N.D. (AP) – Menard, Inc. is appealing a jury award to a woman who was injured when she fell over a flatbed cart at its store in Minot, North Dakota. A jury last year awarded nearly $40,000 to Darlene Johnson, plus about $145,000 in attorney’s fees in a civil lawsuit against the home improvement chain, based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Johnson fell onto the cart that had been left in a walkway near the service desk and cracked seven teeth, which required extensive dental work. Her attorneys argued Menards was at fault for not keeping the walking area free of obstructions. Menards lawyers said Johnson should have been paying closer attention to her surroundings.
 
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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KHRT NEWS – WEDNESDAY – 092320 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota’s Industrial Commission on Tuesday approved a revised gas capture policy that aims to encourage investment in infrastructure but doesn’t change targets for burning excess natural gas at well heads.
 
Current gas capture policy requires companies to capture 88% of the Bakken natural gas they produce. The target increases to 91% on Nov. 1. The remainder of the gas is burned off in a practice known as flaring, which releases carbon dioxide emissions that worsen global warming.
 
State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said the Oil and Gas Division has “relaxed the policy slightly in a few places and tightened it significantly in other places” after months of consultation with industry and environmental groups, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The changes approved unanimously aim to ensure industry compliance with flaring regulations amid future gas production growth, the commission said.
 
“We believe that the revisions that we’ve made to the gas capture policy are the right step at the right time, but I do think every two or three years, we are going to have to look at this thing and modify it as time goes on,” Helms told the three-member, all-Republican panel chaired by Gov. Doug Burgum.
 
Helms said future gas capture requires “a monumental effort” and billions of dollars in infrastructure such as natural gas processing plants and pipelines. North Dakota’s gas production is projected to hit 5.3 billion cubic feet a day 18 years from now. The state produced a record of more than 3.1 billion cubic feet per day in November 2019.
 
Companies have met or exceeded gas capture goals in recent months, largely due to decreased production amid the coronavirus pandemic and several new processing facilities and expansions coming online in the last year, North Dakota Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad said.
 
The policy includes several exceptions for companies that flare natural gas under certain circumstances, such as gas plant outages or delays securing a right-of-way for pipeline construction. Mineral Resources spokeswoman Katie Haarsager said the revised policy should clarify how the variances in the calculation are applied.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota’s top health official has lifted the state’s 14-day quarantine order for people returning from international travel. The quarantine order was issued in April and amended twice, most recently in July. Interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani says it’s important to note the individual countries may have their own restrictions that could impact your travel and that it’s best to check with your destination’s Ministry of Health. Mariani says his decision follows the recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel due to the pandemic.
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BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota is nearing 100 in the hospital and 200 deaths. Monday’s report from the Department of Health list a record 92 in the hospital, up five from yesterday. 26 of those are in ICU. Three more deaths among those who tested positive brings the total to 196. It includes a man in his 70’s from Grand Forks County, a man in his 80’s from Williams County, and a woman in her 90’s from Morton County. All had underlying health conditions. The daily positive rate was 9.14% today as there were 266 positives from 2,976 tests processed. 379 are listed as recovered and active cases are down 118. Active cases at 3,092.
 
Governor Doug Burgum will hold his weekly COVID-19 press conference today at 10 am. We’ll broadcast it on 106.9 K-Heart.
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BURLINGTON, N.D. – As construction continues on City of Burlington Phase BU-1B of the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Project (MREFPP), contractors have scheduled a temporary road closure. Cherry Street will be closed starting Wednesday, September 23, for approximately 3 months. The existing roadway will be removed and realigned slightly to the west to allow space for the new earthen levee to be constructed. Access will remain open on Elm, Willow and Plum Streets. The roadway rebuild is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.
 
 
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – TUESDAY – 092220 – 1200
 
FARGO, N.D. (AP) – A bill named for a Fargo murder victim to address cases of missing and murdered Native Americans is heading to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. Savanna’s Act, which is named for Savanna Greywind, passed the House Monday after passing the Senate earlier this year. The law establishes better law enforcement practices to track, solve and prevent crimes against Native Americans. It directs the Departments of Justice and Interior to consult with American Indian tribes while developing national law enforcement guidelines. The 22-year-old pregnant Greywind was murdered in 2017 and her unborn baby was cut from her body. The infant survived.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota’s top health official has lifted the state’s 14-day quarantine order for people returning from international travel. The quarantine order was issued in April and amended twice, most recently in July. Interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani says it’s important to note the individual countries may have their own restrictions that could impact your travel and that it’s best to check with your destination’s Ministry of Health. Mariani says his decision follows the recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel due to the pandemic.
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BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota is nearing 100 in the hospital and 200 deaths. Today’s report from the Department of Health list a record 92 in the hospital, up five from yesterday. 26 of those are in ICU.
 
Three more deaths among those who tested positive brings the total to 196. It includes a man in his 70’s from Grand Forks County, a man in his 80’s from Williams County, and a woman in her 90’s from Morton County. All had underlying health conditions.
 
The daily positive rate is 9.14% today as there were 266 positives from 2,976 tests processed. 379 are listed as recovered and active cases are down 118.
 
Totals have active cases at 3,092. There have been 588,751 tests processed with 18,508 positive. 15,220 have recovered while 752 have required a hospital stay.
 
Burleigh County had the majority of positives today at 81; Cass with 36; Morton with 30; Stark tallied 21; Williams with 14; McKenzie added 12; Grand Forks had 8; Logan with 7; Dunn had 6; Mountrail and Traill with 5 each; Bottineau, Foster, and Mercer had 4 each; Dickey, McLean and Ward tallied 3 each; Benson, Emmons, Sargent, Stutsman, and Walsh had 2 each; Barnes, Burke, Cavalier, Kidder, McIntosh, Nelson, Oliver, Pembina, Ramsey, and Ransom with one each.
 
Seven counties have more than 100 active cases led by Burleigh with 623, Cass has 515, Stark with 303, Morton at 256, Grand Forks with 242, Williams has 196, and Ward at 172.
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BURLINGTON, N.D. – As construction continues on City of Burlington Phase BU-1B of the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Project (MREFPP), contractors have scheduled a temporary road closure. Cherry Street will be closed starting Wednesday, September 23, for approximately 3 months. The existing roadway will be removed and realigned slightly to the west to allow space for the new earthen levee to be constructed. Access will remain open on Elm, Willow and Plum Streets. The roadway rebuild is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.
 
Phase BU-1B Phase 1 Levee Project addresses the area south of Colton Avenue (County Road 10), and consists of the construction of an earthen levee south from Colton Avenue which will run along the south side of the Johnson Addition dead loop and then along the south side of the Willows Subdivision, drainage improvements, Cherry Street and Grace Street reconstruction, utility relocations, and the new Kittelson Pump Station. This phase of the project is expected to be completed in September 2021.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – The State Historical Society of North Dakota recently honored the Society’s Heritage Volunteers for donating nearly 11,000 hours of service during the past year. This year marks the 39th anniversary of the volunteer program. More than 200 volunteers, ages 14 to 97, donate their time and talent to help the agency meet its mission.
 
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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KHRT NEWS – TUESDAY – 092220 – 0700
 
WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) – A Williston man accused of killing a 34-year-old woman in what police described as an act of domestic violence was charged Monday in Williams County Court. 29-year old Tevin Freeman was charged with Class AA felony murder in the death of Erica Herrera. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
 
Police were called to a Williston apartment shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday on a report that Herrera was not breathing. Authorities said there were “obvious signs of trauma” to Herrera’s head and face and bruises to various parts of her body, court documents show.
 
The complaint said Freeman gave police conflicting accounts of what had happened. He first told police he and Herrera were arguing all night and he decided to go for a walk. He said he found Herrera on the floor when he came back and called 911. After the interview, Freeman allegedly asked police how he could get the charges “dropped down,” the affidavit states. Court documents do not list an attorney for Freeman.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota continued to build on record highs for active cases of the coronavirus and number of hospitalizations. State Department of Health figures released Monday show that the number of active cases grew by two in the last day, to a total of 3,210. The number of people currently receiving care in medical facilities rose by six, to 87. Officials reported one new death, a man in his 80s from Rolette County with underlying health conditions. The death toll stands at 193 since the pandemic began. There were 287 new cases reported Monday, for a total of 18,244.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The need for substitute teachers in the Bismarck Public School districts has pressingly increased this year due to coronavirus-related teacher absences. The demand is mainly because of all the coronavirus close contacts that have to quarantine as a preventive measure, according to Stacey Geiger, Bismarck Public Schools human resources director. Close contacts are defined as people who spend 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of a person infected with COVID-19.
 
Many substitute teachers are shared between the Bismarck and Mandan school districts, and while the roster of substitute teachers is “about the same” as last year, the need for them is higher, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The Bismarck district has so far hired 55 “long-term” substitutes this year and has the funding to hire 11 more, but “we just can’t find them right now,” Bismarck Superintendent Jason Hornbacher said during a school board meeting.
 
The long-term substitutes are designated to a particular school and can step into any classroom as needed on a daily basis. Certain substitutes could not previously work for more than 10 consecutives days but Gov. Doug Burgum recently signed an executive order to eliminate that limit helping school districts by allowing a substitute to cover the entirety of a teacher’s 14-day quarantine period.
As of Sunday, Bismarck Public Schools has identified 16 students and 10 staff members who had tested positive for COVID-19, with another 203 students and 30 staff members in quarantine as close contacts.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum and State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Monday that Kristi Reinke, a social studies teacher at Jim Hill Middle School in Minot, has been named the 2021 North Dakota Teacher of the Year. Reinke was chosen from a group of four finalists for the annual honor. The other three were Jana Gudmundson, a technology integration specialist and instructional coach at Park River Area Schools; Dana Kasowski, a Wahpeton Middle School special education teacher; and Cory Volk, a science teacher at Bismarck’s South Central High School.
 
An eight-member selection committee interviewed the finalists and chose Reinke as the 2021 Teacher of the Year. She succeeds Sara Medalen, a reading and math interventionist at Sunnyside Elementary School in Minot. Reinke is now a candidate for the national Teacher of the Year award, which is named by the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C. The organization typically names four finalists in January and the national Teacher of the Year honoree in the spring.
 
 
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)