North Dakota COVID-19 deaths dropped by almost half in 2022, continuing steady decline

Deaths from COVID-19 in North Dakota dropped by almost half in 2022, repeating a decrease in 2021.

Transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like.
Photo courtesy of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease-Rocky Mountain Laboratories

FARGO — Deaths from COVID-19 in North Dakota declined by almost half in 2022 and continued a trend of steady decline since the highly contagious respiratory illness emerged in the state in 2020.

Last year, 306 COVID-19 deaths were recorded, a decrease of 48.6% from the 595 deaths in 2021, according to vital records figures from the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services.

The percentage drop in COVID-19 deaths from 2021 to 2022 was nearly identical to the 48.7% decrease from 2020 to 2021, falling from 1,159 to 595 deaths.

Deaths decreased almost by three-quarters over the three years from 2020 to 2022, or 73.6%.

The widespread availability of vaccines and other protective measures account for the marked decrease in COVID-19 deaths, Levi Schlosser, a respiratory surveillance epidemiologist for the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday, Feb. 13.


“When the pandemic began in 2020, we didn’t have a lot of protective measures,” including vaccines, which weren’t yet available, he said.

Now, in addition to vaccines, “We have a wide availability of at-home testing,” Schlosser said.

Tests identify those who are infected with the coronavirus so they can stay home to avoid spreading the virus, he said.

Many workplaces, schools, nursing homes and child care centers have mitigation plans to help reduce the spread, Schlosser said.

Also, he said, many people now have greater immune protections against infections by the coronavirus, through previous infections or vaccination, which help prevent severe outcomes, such as hospitalization or death.

Vaccination is the best way to protect against COVID-19.
Forum file photo

COVID-19 was the seventh-leading cause of death in 2022, far behind heart disease and cancer, which consistently lead the top causes of mortality in North Dakota, according to provisional figures.

Still, COVID-19 remains the most deadly infectious disease in North Dakota. In 2022, 128 deaths from influenza or pneumonia were recorded — less than half the 306 COVID-19 deaths.

Although Schlosser said it’s difficult to predict the future mortality figures for COVID-19, he said it’s important to remember the virus — and other respiratory viruses — remains prevalent.


“They’re still around,” he said. “I would still expect COVID to still be in circulation.”

Vaccinations remain one of the best tools to prevent severe illness, Schlosser said.

“That’s definitely going to play a role in decreasing the overall mortality of the disease,” he said.

Other mitigation measures, including frequent hand washing and staying home when sick, can also help, Schlosser said.
As of Feb. 2, North Dakota ranked 32nd among the 50 states and District of Columbia in COVID-19 mortality rates, with 321 deaths per 100,000 population, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.


That's compared to 356 deaths per 100,000 for South Dakota, which ranked 22nd, and 259 deaths per 100,000 for Minnesota, which ranked 39th.

Patrick Springer first joined The Forum in 1985. He covers a wide range of subjects including health care, energy and population trends. Email address:
Phone: 701-367-5294
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