North Dakota has joined a growing list of states that have received federal approval to run their own laboratory tests on potential coronavirus cases.
Health officials and Gov. Doug Burgum made the announcement Tuesday at a news conference to outline preparations to combat the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness.
Officials said no cases have been reported in North Dakota.
Burgum said it's likely the virus will spread to North Dakota at some point. But he said "right now, our focus is on preparation, not panic."
Many states had been unable to run their own laboratory tests on potential coronavirus cases because they had not received federal clearance to do so. States instead sent samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has delayed the response time.
There is no cost for the testing, but a patient is responsible for treatment.
The virus causes fever and coughing and, in serious cases, shortness of breath or pneumonia. Some symptoms are similar to influenza.