BISMARCK — As the pandemic continues to bear down on North Dakota, the health department on Monday, Oct. 12, reported six deaths from COVID-19 and record-high numbers of active cases and virus-related hospitalizations.
Health officials reported the deaths of two Traill County men, an Emmons County woman, a Dunn County man, a Nelson County woman and a Nelson County man. All but one of the victims was at least 80 years old.
The department says 345 North Dakotans have succumbed to the illness, and deaths have been mounting at rapid pace over the last month.
At least 212 of the state's deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, many of which have been decimated by the virus in the last two months. Seven facilities have double-digit numbers of infected residents, including Minot's Somerset Courts, which has 58 residents who have tested positive, according to the department.
There are now 4,546 residents known to be infected with the virus. It's the fifth day in a row the state has set a new pandemic record.
North Dakota has reported the most COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita in the nation over the last week, according to The New York Times. The whole region is experiencing a surge in cases, with South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Montana and Minnesota all identified by the publication as states where infections are "high and staying high."
The number of hospitalized residents with the illness jumped to another all-time high at 158. Thirty-three North Dakotans with the virus are in intensive care.
The state is battling through a shortage of available hospital beds as COVID-19 hospitalizations converge with strains on health care staffing and high non-coronavirus admissions. There are 20 available intensive care beds and 240 regular, inpatient beds in the whole state, according to the latest figures from the department.
The situation is especially dire in Bismarck, where the two hospitals have a combined one available ICU bed and six inpatient beds. Fargo's three hospitals have 11 open ICU beds and 28 inpatient beds, while Grand Forks' Altru hospital has two ICU beds and 10 inpatient beds.
The health department reported 475 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
More than 40 counties reported at least one case Monday, including many small, rural counties.
Cass County, which includes Fargo, reported more than 90 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. The state's most populous county has 902 active cases, now the most in the state.
Fifty-eight new cases came from Stark County, which includes Dickinson. The county's active case count sits at 287.
Burleigh County, which encompasses Bismarck, reported 48 new cases Monday. The county has the second most active cases in the state with 713. Morton County, which sits just west of Burleigh County and includes Mandan, reported 12 new cases and has 253 active cases.
Grand Forks County reported 40 new cases, bringing its active case count up to 311.
Thirty-five new cases came from Ward County, which includes Minot. The county now has the third most active cases in the state at 333.
About 8.9% of the 5,342 residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, but 15.9% of residents tested for the first time got a positive result.
North Dakota does not report a seven-day rolling average for positivity rate, but Forum News Service calculated the rate to be 8% for all residents tested and 14.3% for tests taken on previously untested residents.
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