BISMARCK — North Dakota state health officials have tested five people for coronavirus, resulting in four negative tests and one pending.

The state recently gained the ability to test for the coronavirus, so these individuals would be the first tested in-state. The four negative tests were conducted over the weekend at the state lab in Bismarck, the state Department of Health announced in a news release Monday, March 9.

“The process worked how it should,” said Dr. Christie Massen, director of the state lab. "Concerned individuals talked with their health care providers to evaluate symptoms and travel history and the health care providers reached out to disease control to request the test."

The state lab is coordinating delivery of testing samples from health care facilities to the lab seven days a week for faster results, Massen said.

State health officials met on Monday with leaders and staff from health care facilities, long-term care providers, corrections and rehabilitation facilities and higher education to discuss preparedness and prevention measures, and is hosting a teleconference for business and faith-based communities in the state on Tuesday, March 10.

Gov. Doug Burgum and other state officials on March 3 announced the state had gained the ability to test for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. After an initial batch of tests for the virus proved flawed, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention shipped 75,000 working tests to public health labs in states across the country, including North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Minnesota in recent days has announced that testing confirmed two cases of coronavirus in the state, both individuals who had recently returned from trips, one to Europe and another on a cruise ship.

Public health officials in North Dakota have recommended that returning travelers from some international destinations self-quarantine and report themselves to the state Department of Health via an online form, located at

Only individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should be tested, officials say.

Health officials say people should protect themselves from catching the virus by practicing everyday preventative behaviors: Stay home when sick, avoid contact with sick people, cover coughs and sneezes, frequently wash hands with soap and water and clean frequently touched surfaces.

The virus, which first appeared in China, has spread to dozens of countries around the globe. As of Monday at noon It has sickened more than 100,000 people and killed nearly 4,000. The case count in the United States continues to grow and has climbed past 600 in the last day, with 22 deaths.