- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday defended his decision to not issue a statewide stay-at-home order, saying the state’s targeted approach is working to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The state’s “targeted action, smart action is slowing the spread and flattening the curve and saving lives,” Burgum said during his daily press conference at the state Capitol in Bismarck.

The number of North Dakota COVID-19 cases increased by 14 to a total statewide of 251 on Wednesday. No additional deaths were reported. Four people in North Dakota have died of the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Health officials said 16 people were hospitalized Wednesday, two fewer than on Tuesday. Ninety-eight people have recovered after testing positive, health officials said.

The first-term Republican governor said less than 1% of the state’s 2,600 available hospital beds are being used due to the coronavirus.

Burgum has shut down schools, bars, restaurants, health clubs, movie theaters and beauty salons. But North Dakota is among only a handful of states where no one is under a mandated stay-at-home order.

Similar restrictions Burgum has ordered had commonly been in place in states that have issued stay-at-home orders.

Burgum said restrictions he has imposed, including requiring anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate for no less than 14 days, are “functionally equivalent and totally compatible” to state’s that have issued stay-at-home orders.

“This isn’t as much about what government says, it’s more about what individuals do,” Burgum said.

Burgum on Wednesday amended a self-quarantine order that allows people seeking health care or supplies and services to move more freely across the state’s border.

The original order required people to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from some three dozen states including neighboring Minnesota that have widespread outbreaks. The order does not include people who work in essential jobs such health care, energy, agriculture and the service industry.

Burgum called it a “common sense order for how we want to manage this with travel.”

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