BISMARCK — North Dakota's active coronavirus count dipped for the second day in a row on Wednesday, Sept. 16, after the state hit its pandemic peak earlier this week.

The state department of health reported 269 new positive cases in Wednesday's COVID-19 report, with new positives outweighed slightly by recoveries, for a total of 2,528 active cases in the state.

Deaths from the virus jumped up, with a woman and a man in Burleigh County, a woman and a man in Eddy County, and a man in McLean County all dying since Tuesday. The state reported that all five people had underlying conditions, and three of the deaths occurred in long-term care facilities, according the department's COVID-19 dashboard.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the state says 172 North Dakotans have died from COVID-19, including 34 residents whose deaths have been recorded just this month. A total of 93 people have died in North Dakota's long-term care facilities since March.

Cass County reported the highest count of new cases on Wednesday and has seen its active cases surge in the last few days. Since Saturday, the county, which encompasses Fargo and West Fargo, has reported 344 new cases of the virus, and the state reports 446 active cases in the county. And according to independent reporting by North Dakota State University, the Fargo school has had 142 students and faculty test positive for the virus in the last two weeks, with 236 people linked to the school currently in quarantine.

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Grand Forks County, which experienced a severe spike in COVID cases coinciding with the return to classes at the University of North Dakota, has come down slightly from its peak in late August. The county reported four new cases on Wednesday and has 208 active cases, according to the department of health. Independent reporting by UND discloses 54 students, faculty, and staff currently active with the virus.

Burleigh, which encompasses Bismarck, remains the state's most badly-hit county. It reported 17 new cases of the virus on Wednesday and has an active case count of 501. The neighboring Morton County, which encompasses Mandan, added six cases and has an active count of 206.

Hot spots also persist in some smaller western counties, with Williams County in particular emerging as a badly affected area in recent days. Forty-nine new cases were reported in Williams on Wednesday, and 195 cases are active in the county. Ward County, which encompasses Minot, reported 13 cases in the latest report and is managing 171 active positives.

Thirty-five different counties reported new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, and all but four of the state's 53 counties have at least one active positive.

About 5.4% of the 5,027 residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, but 10.1% of those tested for the first time got a positive result.

North Dakota does not report a seven-day rolling average for positivity rate as many other states do, but Forum News Service calculated the rate to be 9.6% for tests taken on previously untested residents.

Readers can reach reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at awillis@forumcomm.com.