BISMARCK — North Dakota hospitals continue to struggle with high patient admissions and lack of medical staff as the latest COVID-19 wave pushes the health care system to its limit.
The latest surge driven by the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 has put the state on a trajectory for a harsh fall. North Dakota has about 200 more active cases now than it did at the same time last year.
Statewide case rates
NEW CASES REPORTED MONDAY, SEPT. 20: 221
ACTIVE CASES*: 2,979
DAILY POSITIVITY RATE: 11.4%
TOTAL KNOWN CASES THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 126,018
TOTAL RECOVERED THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 121,453
*The Department of Health often amends the number of active cases after they are first reported.
North Dakota's active cases decreased by 135 from the previous day, but low weekend testing levels often affect the number of cases reported on Monday. Active cases have multiplied more than sixfold since the beginning of August.
Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck, has the most known cases in the state at 672 as of Monday. Cass County, which encompasses Fargo, has 528 cases, and Grand Forks County has 223. Sioux and Pierce counties lead the state in cases per capita.
The state's 14-day rolling average positivity rate is 6.4%, where it has hovered since late August.
ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 120
TOTAL DEATHS: 1,586
Hospitalizations fell over the last day, but hospitals are still pressed for capacity as low staffing levels collide with high admissions. Unlike last fall's COVID-19 peak, hospitals are dealing with many noncoronavirus patients on top of high-maintenance COVID-19 patients.
North Dakota had just 11 staffed intensive care beds available throughout the state on Sunday, along with 225 staffed inpatient beds, according to a health department database. Bismarck's two hospitals had no available ICU beds and 10 inpatient beds, while Fargo's three hospitals had a combined six ICU beds and 11 inpatient beds. The bed capacity figures only reveal capacity at a single point in time, and hospitals may actually have more or fewer beds open than when they reported to the health department, said Emergency Preparedness Chief Tim Wiedrich.
The department recently began releasing data about "breakthrough" cases in fully vaccinated residents. During the week of Sept. 12, the state reported only 11 of the 71 hospitalizations came in fully vaccinated residents.
FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED*: 360,552 (54.4% of population ages 12 and up)
FULL VACCINE COVERAGE*: 332,700 (50.2% of population ages 12 and up)
*These figures come from the state's vaccine dashboard, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes vaccinations performed at federal sites, reports slightly higher vaccination rates.
North Dakota ranks in the bottom 10 states in vaccination rate for eligible residents, according to the CDC.
Even though a person can be infected with COVID-19 after they are fully vaccinated, health officials emphasize that those who are immunized often experience less severe symptoms and are less likely to be hospitalized.
More information about vaccines can be found at www.health.nd.gov/covidvaccinelocator.
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