BISMARCK — North Dakota health officials on Monday, Sept. 13, reported a dip in active COVID-19 cases even as the state's reemergent virus outbreak continues to outpace the surge of a year ago.

The state has reported two new virus deaths since the end of last week. Hospital officials warn that the worsening outbreak could overwhelm the state's health care system if more residents don't buy into vaccination, mask-wearing and social distancing.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES REPORTED MONDAY, SEPT. 13: 180

  • ACTIVE CASES*: 2,815

  • DAILY POSITIVITY RATE: 12.1%

  • TOTAL KNOWN CASES THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 122,736

  • TOTAL RECOVERED THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 118,348

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

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North Dakota's active cases dropped by 98 from the previous day on Monday, a break from the recent and rapid increase in new positives. Active cases have multiplied more than six fold since the beginning of August, and hospital administrators have said that the peak of North Dakota's delta surge may not hit until the end of September.

Cass County, which encompasses Fargo, has the most known active cases in the state with 527. Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck, has 517 known cases as of Monday, and Grand Forks County has 235. The worst per capita outbreaks in the state have skewed towards western counties, where vaccination rates are substantially lower. Grant, Adams, Bowman and McKenzie counties have among the worst per capita outbreaks in the state, though they trail McIntosh County, in south-central North Dakota, for the most severe per capita rate.

The state's 14-day rolling average positivity rate is 6.4%.

Nearly half of the state's 2,815 active cases have been reported in residents under the age of 30, according to the health department's dashboard.

A more than 93% vaccination rate among nursing home residents has held the virus in check within long-term care facilities even as the state's virus numbers grow exponentially. The state reported 18 resident cases and 83 staff cases on Monday. Over the course of the pandemic, nursing home residents have made up almost 60% of virus-related deaths.

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 109

  • DEATHS: 2 since Friday, Sept. 10

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 1,573

The state reported two new deaths since the end of last week, one in Ward County, which includes Minot, and one in Sioux County, which encompasses the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The department no longer provides information about the gender or age of deceased residents.

Hospitalizations held steady on Monday from the previous day and dropped by two from the end of last week. But the number of people hospitalized with the virus has climbed rapidly in recent weeks, and health care providers are struggling to keep up with rising admissions amid staffing shortages. Unlike last fall's COVID-19 peak, hospitals are dealing with many noncoronavirus patients on top of high-maintenance COVID-19 patients.

North Dakota had 15 staffed intensive care beds available throughout the state as of Sunday, along with 205 staffed inpatient beds, according to a health department database. Bismarck's two hospitals had one ICU and eight inpatient beds available, while Fargo's three hospitals had a combined seven ICU beds and 10 inpatient beds. The bed capacity figures only reveal capacity at a single point in time, and hospitals may actually have more or fewer beds open than when they reported to the Department of Health, said Emergency Preparedness Chief Tim Wiedrich.

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED*: 356,090 (53.6% of population ages 12 and up)

  • FULL VACCINE COVERAGE*: 327,974 (49.4% 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.

More information about vaccines can be found at www.health.nd.gov/covidvaccinelocator.

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

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