BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Friday, Nov. 13, announced the state had surpassed the sorrowful milestone of 700 COVID-19 deaths in the state.

On Friday, the state reported that 707 North Dakotans have died either with or from COVID-19 since March. Only two weeks ago, the state announced it had surpassed 500 deaths.

RELATED: Another grim milestone leaves North Dakota 'stunned and hurting' with more than 500 COVID-19 deaths

The 10 additional deaths announced Friday include three Ward County residents and one each from Barnes, Cass, Cavalier, Dickey, Grand Forks, McLean and Ramsey County. All were in their 70s to 90s.

At least 409 of the state's deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and there are nearly 600 infected nursing home residents in North Dakota.

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Almost 10,500 North Dakotans are currently infected with COVID-19. The department reported a higher figure on Wednesday, but it blamed a software issue for the artificially high number of active cases.

North Dakota has reported the most COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita in the nation for more than a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. reported 100,000 new coronavirus cases yesterday — a single-day high for the nation, according to The New York Times.

There are 293 residents hospitalized due to the illness, and as of Thursday there were only nine available staffed ICU beds and 160 available staffed in-patient beds.

The state's hospitals are under severe staffing crunches, and available hospital beds are scarce.

Some of North Dakota's prominent doctors met virtually on Friday to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic in the state and answer questions about best practices from the public.

During the meeting, Dr. Kathy Anderson said the state needs to do whatever it can to save lives.

"In a state like ours, I think we need to uses CARES (Act) funding not for fracking," Anderson said. "I think we need to use it to help supplement income for people whose jobs need to be shut down, because they are places of spread that are nonessential in a community like ours with overwhelming community spread."

Dr. Paul Carson, who has advised Gov. Doug Burgum on the state’s pandemic response, said Friday that there are a lot of COVID-19 mitigation strategies that could help slow community spread, and that the "strident calls" for change are not working. He urged people to contact their legislators, commissioners and mayors about implementing mitigation strategies.

On Friday, the North Dakota Department of Health reported an additional 1,441 new COVID-19 cases.

  • Cass County, which includes Fargo and West Fargo, announced 253 new cases Friday. The county now has 1,691 infected residents.
  • Burleigh County, which encompasses Bismarck, reported 191 new cases Friday. The county has the second most active cases in the state with 1,541 residents known to be infected with the virus.
  • Ward County, which includes Minot, reported 183 new cases and now has 1,430 active COVID-19 cases.

Thirteen percent of the 11,083 residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, but almost 20% 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 16% for all residents tested and about 24% 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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