BISMARCK — North Dakota reported six new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, Oct. 6, and an increase in active virus cases, as hospitalizations continue to hold near their highest point since last December.

The state's delta variant outbreak has recently emerged as one of the worst in the country. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, North Dakota's per capita infection rate over the last seven days ranks behind only Alaska and Montana. Upper Midwest and Western states such as Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have all seen climbing case numbers in the last few weeks.

Last week, Gov. Doug Burgum and top North Dakota doctors urged residents to make healthy decisions to avoid putting additional strain on North Dakota's already struggling hospital system. The six largest health care centers in the state have struggled to accommodate the demands of smaller rural facilities in recent weeks, as rising delta hospitalizations, noncoronavirus admissions and staffing shortages have converged to push hospitals to critical capacity.

The following are the North Dakota case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations as of Wednesday. Because all data is preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

Statewide case rates

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  • NEW CASES REPORTED: 812
  • ACTIVE CASES: 4,379
  • DAILY POSITIVITY RATE: 7.8%
  • TOTAL KNOWN CASES THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 135,728
  • TOTAL RECOVERED THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 129,720

Children under age 12, a demographic not yet eligible for vaccination, accounted for 895 of North Dakota's active cases on Tuesday, as well as four of the state's virus hospitalizations. More than a quarter of North Dakota's active cases are residents under 20 years old.

Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck, had the most known active cases on Wednesday with 872. Cass County, which encompasses Fargo, had 863 active cases, and Ward County, which includes Minot, had 351.

The state's 14-day rolling average positivity climbed to 7.9% on Wednesday, more than a point higher than in early September and its highest level since December 2020.

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 172

  • DEATHS: 6

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 1,629

The Department of Health updated figures on Wednesday to reflect a higher number of recent hospitalizations than has been previously reported. According to the latest data, North Dakota hit a recent high of 188 virus hospitalizations over the weekend. Hospitalizations remain near their highest level since last September, dropping slightly to 172 in recent days.

Three of the state's active hospitalizations were children five or younger, while three children between six and 14 were also hospitalized as of Tuesday.

A total of 18 staffed ICU beds were available statewide, according to the latest updates in state health department database. Bismarck's two hospitals had just one ICU bed and no inpatient beds available. Fargo had 10 ICU beds and 19 inpatient beds.

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 369,007 (55.6% of population ages 12 and up)

  • FULL VACCINE COVERAGE: 342,781 (51.6% of population ages 12 and up)

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

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