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Active COVID-19 infections rise in North Dakota as Grand Forks area sees jump in cases

Forty of the new cases came from Grand Forks County, which hasn't seen such a jump in cases since an early outbreak at the LM Wind Power plant in April. The county now has 112 active cases — passing Cass County, which includes Fargo, for the fourth most in the state.

coronavirus-covid-19-nih4.jpg
3D print of a SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—virus particle. The virus surface (blue) is covered with spike proteins (red) that enable the virus to enter and infect human cells. National Institutes of Health
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BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Department of Health on Saturday, Aug. 15, reported 123 new cases of COVID-19.

There are now 1,162 North Dakotans known to be infected with the virus, marking a third straight day of increases. The number of hospitalized residents decreased by 10 from Friday's pandemic high of 65.

Forty of the new cases came from Grand Forks County, which hasn't seen such a jump in cases since an early outbreak at the LM Wind Power plant in April. The county now has 112 active cases — passing Cass County, which includes Fargo, for the fourth most in the state.

Eighteen of the new cases came from Burleigh County, which encompasses Bismarck. The county emerged as the state's hotspot over the last two months and has by far the most active cases with 271. Morton County, which sits just west of Burleigh County and includes Mandan, reported five new cases and has the third most active cases in the state with 114.

Eleven of the new cases reported Saturday came from Cass County. The state's most populous county has 90 active cases.

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Ward County, which includes Minot, reported nine new cases Saturday. McLean County, which lies north of Bismarck, reported eight new cases.

Twenty-two counties reported at least one case Saturday, including many small, rural counties. Gov. Doug Burgum said it appears the virus is spreading more rapidly in rural areas, and residents across the state should take basic precautions such as mask-wearing and social distancing. Burgum has repeatedly rejected the idea of mandating masks, saying the state is relying on local decision-making and "individual responsibility."

The health department says 121 North Dakotans have died from the illness, including 76 residents of Cass County, which includes Fargo and West Fargo. Sixty-seven of the deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. There still are four deaths that remain in a " presumed positive " category, which means a medical professional determined that COVID-19 was a cause of death but the person was not tested for the illness while he or she was alive.

About 1.9% of the 6,478 test results announced Saturday came back positive. The department did not report the number of new cases from repeat tests in its report Saturday.

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Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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