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North Dakota reports two COVID-19 deaths as active cases continue falling

Last week, statewide active COVID-19 cases dropped below 1,000 for the first time since August. With a total of 765 active cases reported on Monday, North Dakota's virus levels are at their lowest point since July.

coronavirus-covid-19-nih4.jpg
3D print of a SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—virus particle. The virus surface (blue) is covered with spike proteins (red) that enable the virus to enter and infect human cells. National Institutes of Health

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Monday, Feb. 8, reported two COVID-19 deaths and a slight dip in active cases.

The deaths included two Cass County residents, one woman in her 60s and another woman in her 90s, according to the Department of Health.

The department says 1,428 North Dakotans have died from the illness since March. At least 850 of the state's deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. There are just seven nursing home residents known to be infected in the whole state, according to the health department.

Active COVID-19 cases declined by 16 on Monday, according to the latest report, bringing the total to 765. There are 40 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, up one person from the day before.

North Dakota's case count and death rates have fallen precipitously since a peak in mid-November, and active infections dipped below 1,000 last week for the first time since August. With active cases now in the mid-700s, North Dakota's case levels are at their lowest point since July. The state now has the nation's second lowest number of cases per capita over the last week behind only Hawaii, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

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State immunization manager Molly Howell told Forum News Service the low case rate can be attributed, in part, to the immunity many North Dakotans have gained through vaccines and prior COVID-19 infections. Howell added that less testing is taking place, so fewer cases in the community are being detected. Howell said she still believes that vaccination is the only way to full herd immunity because of the emergence of more infectious COVID-19 variants and the possibility of reinfection.

The department reported 34 new cases on Monday, including:

  • Nine from Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck.

  • Nine from Cass County, which includes Fargo.

About 2.3% of the residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, and an average of 2.6% of those tested in the last two weeks got a positive result. Six of Monday's positives came off rapid tests, while the rest came off traditional tests.
North Dakota is a national leader in administering the COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 99% of the state's allocation already having been given to residents, as of Saturday. So far, more than 135,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered, and more than 38,000 residents have received both doses.

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

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