Gov. Doug Burgum said Thursday that North Dakota’s coronavirus approach is shifting from pandemic to an “endemic” phase, almost two years since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the state.
The virus has been ebbing in the state for weeks. Active cases peaked in January at more than 12,000, and stood at less than 400 on Tuesday, according to state Health Department data.
North Dakota hasn’t had a statewide masking requirement for more than a year, and relied on voluntary measures as hospitals came under pressure from the omicron wave in recent months. The shift to endemic status will mean less frequent virus updates, and National Guard support for the state’s response will end, the state said.
“As we prepare to shift into a new phase and learn to live with this virus, we have resources and tools that were not available two years ago,” Burgum said in statement. “Research, vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, antivirals and at-home test kits have changed what we know about the virus and how we respond in our communities.”
Diseases are endemic when they occur regularly in certain areas according to established patterns, while a pandemic refers to a global outbreak that causes unpredictable waves of illness.