BISMARCK — Active COVID-19 cases in North Dakota continue to ascend as the state Department of Health on Monday, Oct. 19, reported a record 5,837 active cases, which is more than twice as many as the state disclosed a mere 30 days ago.

Monday marked the 12th consecutive day active cases have reached a record high, and the state's hospital capacity continues to become more dire with the state's capital city reporting only one available staffed intensive care bed in its two hospitals.

Sanford Health Bismarck had one available staffed ICU bed and one available staffed in-patient bed as of Monday, according to the Department of Health. The CHI St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck had no staffed ICU bed available and 10 in-patient staffed beds open.

Some additional ICU space opened up in Fargo, with now 13 staffed ICU beds available compared to the three that were available as of Sunday.

Overall, the state announced Monday that there are 25 available staffed ICU beds and 263 available staffed in-patient beds.

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An additional four deaths were reported on Monday: A Towner County man age 100 or older, a Hettinger County woman in her 80s, and two Burleigh County men — one in his 40s and the other in his 70s. All had underlying health conditions.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says older adults and people with HIV, diabetes, asthma, liver disease or other conditions that compromise one's immune system are at a greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

With less than two weeks of October remaining, 138 of the state's now 408 COVID-related deaths have occurred in October, according to the North Dakota Department of Health, which makes October the deadliest month of the pandemic so far.

At least 254 of the state's deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, many of which have seen skyrocketing cases among residents and employees in the last month.

North Dakota reported the most COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita in the nation over the last week, according to The New York Times. Foster, Towner and Oliver County rank among the top 10 counties in the nation with the highest number of recent COVID-19 cases per resident, according to the publication.

Cass County, which includes Fargo and West Fargo, reported 218 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. The county now has 1,295 residents known to be infected with the illness — the most of the state's 53 counties.

Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck, closely trails behind Cass County with 969 active cases. The county announced an additional 115 cases Monday.

Ward County, which encompasses Minot, reported 63 new cases, increasing its active case count to the third-highest in the state with 520.

About 8% of the 8,103 residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, but 14% of residents tested for the first time got a positive result.

North Dakota does not report a seven-day rolling average for positivity rate, but Forum News Service calculated the rate to be 9.8% for all residents tested and about 17% for tests taken on previously untested residents.

Readers can reach reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at mgriffith@forumcomm.com.

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