Burgum Caved on Public Health Order Within Hours; Already Brushed off Paid Leave

BISMARCK, ND — Gov. Burgum’s administration made it a day before rescinding an order that would require close contacts of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 to quarantine. The original order brought North Dakota in line with Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The state is facing our worst week of COVID-19 outbreaks yet, and leads the nation in per capita cases.

The order was rescinded at the request of North Dakota Republican legislative leaders. Burgum’s refusal to listen to public health experts has cost him two top public health officials since the pandemic began. Earlier this year, Gov. Burgum and Republican leadership also dismissed calls for an Emergency Paid Leave program that would make it financially feasible for North Dakotans to quarantine when necessary.

Rep. Gretchen Dobervich, Chair of the Dem-NPL House Caucus, and a public health professional said:

“This rollback further confuses what exactly the governor expects North Dakotans to do to reduce the surge of COVID-19 across our state and further politicizes a deadly public health crisis. Quarantine, isolation, and physical distancing are centuries-old, evidence-based, public health strategies that reduce risk of infection. We introduced emergency paid leave and other proposals to make it possible for North Dakotans to quarantine without sacrificing their financial stability. Gov. Burgum and the NDGOP shot them down without consideration. COVID-19 is real, serious, and preventable. For the sake of our lives and livelihoods, it is time the governor and Republican leadership treat it that way.” 

The Democratic-NPL Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen said:

“For just a moment, Gov. Burgum indicated he was willing to take advice from public health experts as North Dakota suffers through our worst COVID-19 week yet. But in only a few hours, he caved to just a bit of criticism. His governing is becoming erratic at a time when North Dakotans need clarity and transparency, so we can make the best decisions for our families and communities. Dem-NPL legislators offered solutions like emergency paid leave to make quarantine more viable for North Dakotans, but he ignored them. These guidelines came from the CDC, not from either party, and finding solutions shouldn’t be partisan either.”