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Grand Forks County Commission briefed on decrease in COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 cases peaked about two weeks ago with the omicron variant making up most cases, but in Grand Forks County, cases are now down by about "500 week over week" since then, according to the Grand Forks Health Department’s Michael Dulitz.

The Grand Forks County Office Building. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.
The Grand Forks County Office Building. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.

GRAND FORKS — The Grand Forks County Commission received another COVID-19 update on Tuesday – this time detailing a welcome decrease in COVID-19 cases in the county.

COVID-19 peaked about two weeks ago with the omicron variant making up most cases, but in Grand Forks County, cases are now down by about "500 week over week" since then, according to the Grand Forks Health Department’s Michael Dulitz.

“I want to reiterate that what we’re seeing is a decline in cases and not a cliff,” Dulitz said Tuesday. “So, there’s still cases happening in the community. We saw 247 reported yesterday. We’re seeing a decline from the highest number that we’ve seen in the pandemic. It’s not over yet, but it’s good that we aren’t going up again.”

Dulitz said some of the incoming numbers were delayed due to challenges with state testing labs being backed up, but that the missing data came in Monday, allowing for the full picture to be presented.

Cases are happening more often in the 10-19 age group, but the 20-29 age group still accounts for most cases in the county, which is attributed to those people being a high percentage of the county’s population when UND is in session.

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“What we’re seeing right now does really match what we’re seeing in other communities throughout the state in kind of our peer communities,” Dulitz said. “We all have different peaks. Cass County has the highest peak, but we’re all kind of following the same downward trajectory. When we look into the rural areas, they’re seeing peaks at different times than we are, so particularly the rural counties around Grand Forks, they are all piecemeal on what they’re seeing each outbreak.”

Vaccination rates are increasing in the 5-11 age group, but only about 25% of the county residents in that age group are vaccinated. Dulitz is concerned the rate has slowed before reaching a higher number. Approximately 57% of the county's residents are fully vaccinated, Dulitz said.

Hospitalizations also are up. Dulitz said Altru reported nine hospitalizations on Dec. 25, but the current number is 24.

“This is always kind of a challenging one for us, because we do see hospitalizations, and when you convert these numbers out it doesn't look like a lot," he said. "But it’s still having a big burden on the health care system."

In other news, the commission approved the creation of a position at the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office – an office support investigative analyst. The job, however, is merely a reclassification, as the office has had one employee unofficially carrying out the duties for the position for “nearly three years,” and the department is not attempting to add any additional staff.

Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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