BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Thursday, Oct. 21, reported an additional five COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state's overall pandemic death toll to 1,703 North Dakotans in nearly 20 months.

The additional deaths reported on Thursday come as hospitalizations in North Dakota, both the number of COVID-19 and non-coronavirus patients, remain high. Hospitals across the state are also experiencing severe staffing shortages. The Department of Health on Wednesday appealed to residents on its social media pages to do what they can to stay healthy and out of the hospital.

"At this critical time, please take precautions to stay out of the hospital, including being up to date on your immunizations and practicing injury prevention," the Department of Health said.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES REPORTED THURSDAY, OCT. 21: 543
  • ACTIVE CASES*: 3,565
  • DAILY POSITIVITY RATE: 5.89%
  • TOTAL KNOWN CASES THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 143,521
  • TOTAL RECOVERED THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 138,253
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*The Department of Health often amends the number of active cases after they are first reported.

Cass County, which encompasses Fargo, had the most known active cases on Thursday with 739 cases. Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck, had 464 active cases, and Stark County, which includes Dickinson, had 362.

Adolescents under 20 years of age encompassed 28% of North Dakota's active COVID-19 cases. As of Thursday, children under 12, an age group that is not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, accounted for 639 of the state's active cases.

The state's 14-day rolling average positivity rate was 7.09% as of Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 189

  • DEATHS: 5

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 1,703

As of Wednesday, there were 14 available staffed ICU beds statewide, according to a Department of Health database.

Thursday's five reported deaths included one resident from the following counties: McLean, Morton, Burleigh, Stutsman and Grand Forks.

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED*: 375,360 (56.3% of population ages 12 and up)

  • FULL VACCINE COVERAGE*: 350,345 (52.6% 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 still ranks in the bottom 10 in vaccination rate in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The Department of Health encourages individuals to get information about vaccines at www.health.nd.gov/covidvaccinelocator.

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