Coronavirus cases increase to 26 in North Dakota

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FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota officials announced seven new coronavirus cases Friday, increasing the state’s total to 26.

Gov. Doug Burgum noted one of the new cases is in Pierce County, a rural county in central North Dakota. He says those who think the coronavirus only affects people in big cities are mistaken, and that everyone in the state needs to practice social distancing.

“It’s evidence it’s not just in larger-population areas,” Burgum said. “It can spread to the most rural parts of the country and it will spread to rural parts of North Dakota.”

As of Friday, two of the people who were sick have been hospitalized.

Burgum said he signed an executive order to cut red tape around applying for unemployment insurance, noting the state was already seeing a sharp increase in claims.

Meanwhile, the University of North Dakota and Dickinson State canceled spring commencement.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

Burgum has already ordered all bars, restaurants, health clubs, movie theaters and other large-scale venues to close to patrons, while still allowing offsite food and beverage service. He is also keeping K-12 schools closed until further notice so districts can map out plans to resume classes remotely.

In the meantime, Burgum will issue a 12-day waiver to a state law in order to pay teachers, administrators, staffs and bus drivers during the shutdown.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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