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1 in 500 North Dakotans has died of COVID-19

The number of active COVID-19 cases throughout North Dakota has increased by nearly 45%, according to data from the North Dakota Department of Health.

A coronavirus graphic. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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BISMARCK — North Dakota has marked 1,560 COVID-19 deaths throughout the pandemic, meaning one in 500 residents has died of COVID-19.

The one in 500 rate is based off of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2020 count for the state: 779,094 North Dakotans. A Forum analysis of Centers for Disease Control data and the 2020 Census population count found that 20 other states have also reached a one in 500 resident COVID-19 death rate, including South Dakota, Florida, Michigan and Ohio.

New Jersey has reported 26,826 COVID-19 deaths, according to the CDC, meaning one in 346 residents has died with the illness.

Sanford Health's Chief Physician Dr. Jeremy Cauwels was quoted in a recent Sanford Health story that the delta variant is "good at spreading," and the strain is spreading faster than other variants.

Among Americans, one in 500 has died of COVID-19, Cauwels said in the story.


“That’s a sobering statistic particularly when it could have been prevented with a mask or vaccine — or both," he said.

In North Dakota, which at one point had the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world, reported four additional COVID-19 deaths on Friday amid a spike in cases as the delta variant continues to percolate across the state. The number of active cases has increased by nearly 45% in the last week, according to North Dakota Department of Health data.

Statewide case rates

  • ACTIVE CASES*: 2,084

*The Department of Health often amends the number of active cases after they are first reported.

North Dakota's active cases last week surpassed 2,000 for the first time since December.

Burleigh County, which encompasses Bismarck, has the most known active cases in the state with 398. Cass County had 367 known cases as of Monday, and Ward County, which encompasses Minot, had 207.

The state's 14-day rolling average positivity rate was 6.43% as of Sunday, Aug. 29.

Since June 27, there have been 155 cases of reinfection.

Hospitalizations, deaths


  • DEATHS: 0

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 1,560

North Dakota had 21 staffed ICU beds available throughout the state as of Monday, along with 224 staffed in-patient beds. There were two available staffed ICU bed among Bismarck's two hospitals as of Monday. Seven staffed ICU beds were available among the three hospitals in Fargo.
The Department of Health began releasing data about breakthrough cases last week. A breakthrough case occurs when a person tests COVID-19 positive after they are fully vaccinated. During the week of Aug. 22, the state reported 10 hospitalizations where the person was fully vaccinated and 42 hospitalizations where the person was not fully vaccinated.


Increased COVID-19 hospitalizations reported


  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED*: 344,815 (52.1% of population ages 12 and up)

  • FULL VACCINE COVERAGE*: 318,181 (48.1% 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.

Even though a person can be infected with COVID-19 after they are fully vaccinated, the health officials emphasize that those who are inoculated often experience less severe symptoms have a less likely chance of being hospitalized.

Almost 320,000 North Dakotans have been fully vaccinated, and 0.0365% were hospitalized due to COVID-19, according to the Department of Health.

The chance to become infected with COVID-19 also decreases when a person is vaccinated.

In North Dakota, one in 181 fully vaccinated people have tested COVID-19 positive, compared to one in 16 unvaccinated individuals, according to the Department of Health.

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.

Michelle (she/her, English speaker) is a Bismarck-based journalist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and Report for America, a national service organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities.
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