BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Thursday, Feb. 18, reported four new COVID-19 deaths and a drop in hospitalizations.

Deaths reported Thursday include an Adams County man in his 80s, a Cass County man in his 70s, a Grand Forks County woman in her 70s and a Stark County woman in her 80s. The four additional deaths now brings the state's overall pandemic death toll to 1,435 North Dakotans. Almost 61% of North Dakota's deaths occurred in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

North Dakota confirmed its first cases of the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19 on Wednesday. An individual traveled to a state with known cases of the U.K. strain, and two other individuals came in close contact with them and tested positive for the strain. These three people have now recovered, however, North Dakota health officials urge the public to continue pandemic mitigation strategies because the strain is now in the state and is more contagious than the ones commonly found in the U.S.

As of Thursday, more than 171,000 vaccinations have been administered in North Dakota, and almost 54,000 have received both doses.

COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased on Thursday to 31 residents, which is down significantly from the more than 350 North Dakotans who were hospitalized at one point in November and the lowest it has been since July.

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Active COVID-19 cases in North Dakota increased slightly from Wednesday to 836 residents known to be infected with the virus. This is also the lowest number of active cases the state has reported since July.

  • 32 from Cass County, which includes Fargo and West Fargo.
  • 16 from Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck.
  • 16 from Stark County, which includes Dickinson.

About 2.6% of the 5,136 residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, and the average positivity rate of those tested in the last two weeks is about 2.6%.

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Readers can reach Forum News Service reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at mgriffith@forumcomm.com.