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Number of North Dakotans catching COVID-19 for 2nd time rises sharply

Residents should be aware that immunity against the virus gained from a previous bout with the illness may not protect them from the wave of infection currently crashing into North Dakota, said Michelle Dethloff, the infectious disease and epidemiology director with the state Department of Health.

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A coronavirus graphic. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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BISMARCK — As the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads through North Dakota, the number of residents catching the virus for a second time is on the rise.

The state recorded 534 COVID-19 reinfections between Dec. 20 and Jan. 3 — a significant figure given that North Dakota has only documented about 3,000 reinfections since the beginning of the pandemic.

Most residents who have recently become reinfected with COVID-19 initially had the virus during the winter 2020 peak in cases, though some recently tested positive just a few months after first getting the virus, said Michelle Dethloff, the infectious disease and epidemiology director with the state Department of Health.

Studies have shown that the omicron variant, soon to be the dominant strain in the state, comes with a higher risk of reinfection, she added.

Residents should be aware that immunity against the virus gained from a previous bout with the illness may not protect them from the wave of infection currently crashing into North Dakota, Dethloff said. The state reported more than 1,200 new cases on Tuesday as test positivity rates rise to late 2020 levels.

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Some North Dakotans have been hospitalized with reinfections, so there's no guarantee of an asymptomatic or mild illness on the second go around, she said.

Vaccinations and booster doses represent the best available protection against the virus and any serious illnesses it could cause, though North Dakotans should also stay home when sick and wear a mask in public places, Dethloff added.

The following are COVID-19 case rates, deaths and hospitalizations tracked by the North Dakota Department of Health as of Tuesday, Jan. 4. Because all data are preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES REPORTED: 1,234
  • ACTIVE CASES: 2,064
  • DAILY POSITIVITY RATE: 13%
  • 14-DAY ROLLING POSITIVITY RATE: 8.5%
  • TOTAL KNOWN CASES THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 176,239
  • TOTAL RECOVERED THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC: 172,250

North Dakota's active cases increase by about 500 over the previous day, and the high rate of positive tests suggests the virus is widely circulating in the state.
Cass County, which encompasses Fargo, has the most active cases in the state at 614. Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck, has 329 active cases. Rolette County leads the state in cases per capita.

The 8.5% rolling positivity rate is the highest since December 2020.

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 131
  • DEATHS REPORTED TUESDAY: 3
  • TOTAL DEATHS: 2,015

The Department of Health reported three COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, including one each from Ward, Grant and Pembina counties.
The state reported 18 available intensive care beds and 191 regular inpatient beds across the state on Monday.

More than 81% of residents who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in the last week were not fully vaccinated.

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 474,165 (60.9% of population)
  • FULL VACCINE COVERAGE: 400,490 (51.4% of population)
  • BOOSTER DOSES ADMINISTERED: 158,091 (20.3% of population)

The top two figures come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , which includes vaccinations performed at federal sites, while the bottom figure comes from the state's vaccine dashboard , which gives a fuller picture of booster and third doses.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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