BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Saturday, May 16, announced 88 new cases of COVID-19, most of which came from the state's hotspot and largest metro area. It's the second highest number of new cases confirmed in a single day since the outbreak began in March.

The total number of positive tests for the virus in the state is at 1,848, but 1,111 people have recovered from the illness, including 40 announced Saturday. There are 33 residents hospitalized with the illness, down two from Friday.

Forty-two North Dakotans, including 32 residents of Cass County, have died from the illness that has claimed more than 88,000 lives nationwide. At least 29 of the deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to the department.

In one of its most successful testing days, the state announced 2,861 test results on Saturday. More than 1,000 of the people in the latest batch had previously been tested for the virus. Gov. Doug Burgum has stated that he would like to see regular testing of vulnerable residents, especially those living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Seventy-five of the new cases Saturday came from Cass County, which encompasses Fargo and West Fargo. The county now has 1,106 known cases, but the department reports that 600 residents have recovered after previously testing positive.

Cass County accounts for more than 68% of the active COVID-19 cases, but only about 22% of the people tested in North Dakota reside in the county. Burgum said at the beginning of the week the state would aim to close the testing disparity in the county by week's end, but the gap has only grown larger since then.

Eight of the new cases came from Grand Forks County, which has the second most cases in the state at 315. The department lists 185 residents of the county as having recovered from the illness and three have died.

The other five new cases Saturday came from Burleigh and Mountrail counties.

A total of 53,487 residents have been tested for the virus, and 39 counties now have had at least one known case of the illness. However, Burgum has previously said that the cases are reported based on patients' mailing addresses rather than their actual location in the state, so it is unknown where infected patients are isolating or seeking medical help.

Burgum said the state and its health care providers aim to perform 4,000 tests per day by the end of the month. He has maintained throughout the pandemic that widespread available testing is the key to restoring normalcy to work and home life.

Nursing home cases climb as testing targets facilities

The number of cases in residents and employees of nursing homes and long-term care facilities increased on Saturday to 357. Nursing homes are particularly susceptible to deadly outbreaks of COVID-19 because many residents are 65 or older and have underlying conditions.

More than 70% of the cases tied to nursing homes have come in Fargo. Villa Maria rehabilitation center in Fargo has the most cases of any facility in the state at 48. There are also 46 cases tied to Rosewood on Broadway, 41 tied to Bethany on University and 34 tied to Eventide facilities.

Four nursing homes in Grand Forks have reported 20 total cases of the illness, including Valley Senior Living on Columbia with 11 cases.

An executive order restricting visitation at nursing homes remains in place as most other restrictions on movement and business closures have been lifted.

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