BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Friday, Dec. 4, announced 12 COVID-19 deaths but another overall drop in active cases.

The deaths came from all over the state, including three from Ward County, three from Renville County and one each from Burleigh, Cass, Emmons, Foster, Mercer and Sargent counties.

The department says 989 North Dakotans have succumbed to the illness since March. November was by far North Dakota's deadliest month of the pandemic, with 403 COVID-19 fatalities, and 85% of the state's deaths have come since Sept. 1.

At least 586 of the state's deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. There are 380 infected nursing home residents in the state, and more than a dozen facilities have double-digit active cases in residents, including The Meadows on University in Fargo, which has 21 infected residents.

Over the last three weeks, active COVID-19 cases have steadily declined from more than 10,000 on Nov. 12. Now, 5,307 North Dakotans are known to be infected with the virus, marking a drop of more than 150 from Thursday, Dec. 3.

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Even as active infections drop, hospitals are still dealing with near-record COVID-19 admissions. There are 324 residents hospitalized due to the illness, up 18 over the previous day. Forty-eight residents with the virus are in intensive care.

The state's hospitals are still struggling with severe staffing crunches, and available hospital beds are scarce. Many nurses have been sidelined by the virus in recent months, exacerbating a nursing shortage that dates back to before the pandemic.

On Friday, the health department reported 852 new cases, including:

  • 216 from Cass County, which includes Fargo. The county has 1,135 active cases.
  • 133 from Burleigh County, which encompasses Bismarck. The county has 754 active cases. Another 39 new cases came from neighboring Morton County, which includes Mandan.
  • 67 from Ward County, which includes Minot and has 510 active cases.
  • 67 from Stark County, which encompasses Dickinson and has 184 active cases.

About 8.2% of the 10,381 residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, and an average of 10.9% of those tested in the last two weeks got a positive result. Like active cases, the state's positivity rate has decreased in the last two weeks.

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