BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Saturday, May 23, announced 49 new cases of COVID-19, with the majority of cases from the Fargo area.

The number of new cases is down from 89 on Thursday, and a record-high 133 cases on Wednesday. It’s the lowest daily positive count in almost a week.

This comes a day after Gov. Doug Bergum announced that no criminal charges or penalties will be held against businesses that don’t follow operation guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

The lone death from Thursday, May 21, was a 90-year-old man with underlying health conditions. It was incorrectly reported Friday that he was in his 80s. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says older adults and people with HIV, diabetes, asthma, liver disease or other conditions that compromise one's immune system are at a greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

Fifty-two North Dakotans, including 41 from Cass County, have died from the virus that has claimed more than 96,000 lives nationwide.

The confirmed cases bring the total to 2,365 in the state. A total of 1,451 individuals have now recovered from the virus. In addition, 39 people remain hospitalized; in all, 150 residents have been hospitalized in North Dakota.

Of the 49 new cases, 46 came from Cass County, bringing the total cases in the county to 1,487, nearly 63% of the total cases in North Dakota. According to the department, 847 have recovered from the illness after previously testing positive in the area.

Other counties that confirmed positive tests included Burleigh, Grand Forks and Ransom. Grand Forks County, with the second-most cases in the state, rose to 321, while Burleigh is up to 129, with Ransom sitting at eight cases.

Another 2,408 tests were conducted Friday with a 2% positivity rate. Of the individuals, 1,090 of them were re-testing. A total of 80,046 tests have been conducted in the state, with 61,783 tests coming back negative, according to the department.

While the majority of recorded cases are in the 20-49 age group, the eldery have seen the most deaths -- 33 of the state’s deaths have come from individuals 80 and older, and 11 from people in their 70s.

Of the new cases reported Saturday, 11 are residents and employees in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. According to the department, 476 total cases have been reported in nursing homes. Rosewood on Broadway and Villa Marie rehabilitation center, both in Fargo, have 58 and 57 cases, respectively. Bethany University has 43, and Evantide sits with 36 cases.

Nursing homes are more susceptible to deadly outbreaks of COVID-19 due to the amount of elderly with underlying health conditions.

The health department does not discern between employees and residents in its reporting of nursing home cases. It also does not clarify how many active cases, recoveries and deaths are tied to each facility.

As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status. If this coverage is important to you, please consider supporting local journalism by clicking on the subscribe button in the upper righthand corner of the homepage.