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Grand Forks County Commission receives COVID-19 update, revealing overall increase in cases and case positivity

The bad news is Grand Forks remains in a “high transmission” designation from the CDC and is still in the high-risk category. The number of school-aged cases increased again, and the 30-69 age group is still at a consistent pace trending upward since the last update.

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The Grand Forks County Office Building, photographed on Nov. 23, 2015. Photo by Nick Nelson/Grand Forks Herald
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Members of the Grand Forks County Commission on Tuesday received a COVID-19 update from the Grand Forks Public Health Department and were told of an overall increase in cases and case positivity over the past two weeks.

Chia-Lin Chang, an intern for the department and a Ph.D. student at UND, gave the update.

The bad news is Grand Forks remains in a “high transmission” designation from the Centers for Disease Control and is still in the high-risk category. The number of school-aged cases increased again, and the 30-69 age group is still at a consistent pace trending upward since the last update.

“Fortunately, the vaccine numbers also went up because of the boosters and the pediatric Pfizer vaccine,” Chang said. “However, the seven-day sum of deaths is up since the beginning of August. The death increase was the result of increasing incidents and hospitalizations in the region.”

The good news is vaccination rates are still increasing, albeit slowly. The cases in the elderly population have also decreased in the past two weeks from the two weeks prior, possibly the result of more people in the 70-and-older age range receiving vaccines than any ages below it, including booster shots.

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There were more cases in September and October 2021 than the same time in 2020. However, the peak during that time this year was lower than last year, indicating less volatile trends. Chang said this will impact hospitals less

“We have a prolonged, steady slope for the cases this year, and the good side is that it will impact less of the hospital capacity. However, the case rate has still increased the past two weeks,” Chang said. “It is still maintaining the level, but no peak outbreak has happened.”

Chang said compared to North Dakota as a whole, Grand Forks County is doing fairly well, and even better than most of its peer counties. However, she said hospital capacity could be an issue because Altru is taking COVID-19 patients from Minnesota and other areas outside of the county, which could lead to increases in hospitalizations without an increase in local cases.

The county passed the 50% vaccination threshold that it was aiming for two weeks ago, and the new goal is 60%. Chang said the variable moving forward is college vaccination levels, because it is hard to track which students are in the population.

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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