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Blue Cross to waive costs of coronavirus

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, the largest insurance provider in the state, has agreed to waive costs of inpatient and outpatient treatment, including insurance co-pays, through May 31 for people who are infected with the new coronavirus, Gov. Doug Burgum announced at this daily briefing on Thursday.

“This is a big deal,” said Burgum, who said the state insurance commissioner would encourage other insurance companies to follow suit.

Blue Cross Blue Shield had already agreed to waive out of pocket costs for testing for the virus.

There were 12 more positive tests for coronavirus in the state as of Thursday, bringing the total to 159. Twenty-eight people have been hospitalized and three people have died.

Burgum also issued a new executive order on Friday giving local school districts the ability to hold school board elections by mail-in ballot only and not requiring them to maintain a physical polling site. Some school board elections are held as early as April and can be held up to June 30. He had already issued an executive order giving local precincts the ability to hold mail-in elections only for the June primary.

Burgum also encouraged people to donate to local charities that are giving to support organizations aiding coronavirus pandemic relief or to the ND COVID-19 Community & Nonprofit Response fund, which will be managed by the North Dakota Community Foundation. More information on the fund can be found at ndcf.net Grants will be distributed beginning in mid-April to organizations. Individuals are not eligible to apply for the grants.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem also urged people to donate but also to check out charities to make sure that they are legitimate. Charities in the state are required to be registered with the secretary of state’s office. Stenehjem also told people to beware of phone and email scams that are proliferating in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Some people have lost thousands of dollars. Stehenjem said one woman mailed a check for $9,500 after she got a call from a scammer saying she had won a sweepstakes prize and needed to send money to collect it. The woman saw an article in a paper and did not send the scammer any more money. Stenehjem said at the briefing that his office was able to get in touch with a sheriff in the Texas county where the scammer lives. Stenehjem said the Texas sheriff went to the address and retrieved the check that the North Dakota woman had sent. The woman will be getting her money back.

North Dakota Health Department reports on Coronavirus cases

New positive cases as of Thursday: 12

Total positive cases: 159

Total hospitalized: 28

Total deaths: 3

Total recovered: 43

Total tested as of Thursday: 4,980

Total negative tests: 4,821

Positive cases by county:

Cass: 43

Burleigh: 32

Stark: 18

Morton: 14

Ward: 13

Mountrail: 8

Grand Forks: 5

Williams: 4

Ramsey: 3

Barnes: 2

Burke: 2

McKenzie: 2

McLean: 2

Pierce: 2

Divide: 1

Dunn: 1

Foster: 1

Grant: 1

McHenry: 1

McIntosh: 1

Oliver: 1

Sioux: 1

Walsh: 1

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