BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health reported Friday, Sept. 17, that more than half of the state's eligible population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but the state still lags far behind national immunization metrics.

North Dakota's vaccination trends have recently taken a slight upward turn following a plateau that persisted for much of the late spring and summer. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which encompasses vaccines administered at federal sites, shows vaccination levels in North Dakota slightly higher than state data, at 51.2% for residents 12 and older — still well below the national rate of 63.5% for that demographic.

Just 43% of North Dakota's total population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the CDC.

The state health department reported two new COVID-19 deaths and small increases in the number of active virus cases and hospitalizations on Friday.

Active virus positives in North Dakota increased by 63 on Friday compared to the previous day. Nearly half of North Dakota's 3,486 active cases are among residents under 30 years of age. On Friday, 70 of the new positive cases were reported among children younger than 12, an age group that is not yet eligible for inoculation against the virus.

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Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED*: 359,484 (54.3% of population ages 12 and up)

  • FULL VACCINE COVERAGE*: 331,427 (50.1% 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.

The Department of Health encourages individuals to get information about vaccines at www.health.nd.gov/covidvaccinelocator.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES REPORTED SEPT. 16: 493
  • ACTIVE CASES*: 3,486
  • DAILY POSITIVITY RATE: 5.2%
  • TOTAL KNOWN CASES THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 125,110
  • TOTAL RECOVERED THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 120,039

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

Burleigh County, which encompasses Bismarck, surpassed Cass County this week for the most known active cases in the state, with 677 as of Friday. Cass, which includes Fargo, reported 633 cases on Friday, and Stark County, which encompasses Dickinson, had 283.

McIntosh County, in south-central North Dakota, reported the worst per capita outbreak of any North Dakota county on Friday, according to the health department's dashboard. Many counties in western North Dakota, where vaccination rates tend to be low, have shown higher per capita cases of the virus than eastern counties in the last few weeks.

North Dakota's 14-day rolling average positivity rate is 6.3%.

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 111

  • DEATHS: 2

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 1,586

The North Dakota Department of Health reported two additional COVID-19 deaths on Friday.

Virus hospitalizations increased by two on Friday over the previous day and have hovered above 100 since a recent high of 137 at the end of August. Hospitals in North Dakota this week have been overwhelmed due to staffing shortages and high admissions of COVID and non-COVID patients.

North Dakota had just 13 staffed intensive care beds available throughout the state, along with 183 staffed inpatient beds, according to the latest figures in a health department database. Bismarck's two hospitals had no ICU beds and just two inpatient beds available between them, while Fargo's three hospitals had a combined five ICU beds and two inpatient beds. Hospital bed availability is constantly in flux, so the state's database only provides a snapshot of the capacity in North Dakota health care centers.

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