BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Thursday, Jan. 21, reported 13 new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state's official pandemic death toll up to 1,400, even as active case numbers continued their steady decline.

The deaths reported on Thursday marked an abnormal reporting day, as North Dakota had been averaging two deaths a day in January, way down from December. The new deaths came from all over the state, including two deaths in Burleigh and Ransom counties and one death each in Barnes, Cass, Golden Valley, McHenry, McLean, Towner, Walsh, Ward and Williams counties.

North Dakota's active virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped off precipitously since a November peak that marked the worst flare-up in the country. Now, the Upper Midwest appears to be in substantially better shape even as a severe national outbreak persists in warmer regions such as the South and Southwest.

The state health department reported a decrease of eight active cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 1,169 — the lowest count since late August, when the state's virus surge was just beginning. Fifty-four people are hospitalized with the virus in North Dakota, down one from the day before.

The department reported 152 new cases on Thursday, including:

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  • 24 from Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck.
  • 23 from Cass County, which includes Fargo.
  • 17 from Williams County, which includes Williston.
  • 10 from Grand Forks County.

North Dakota is among the national leaders in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. The state has administered more first vaccine doses per capita than almost any other state in the country, second only to West Virginia, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine tracker. The Department of Health reports that North Dakota has administered a total of 63,244 doses out of almost 93,500 received.

About 2.4% of the residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, and an average of 3.5% of those tested in the last two weeks have tested positive. Forty-one of Thursday's positives came off rapid tests, while the rest came off traditional tests.

At least 830 of the state's deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. There are 29 infected nursing home residents in the state.

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