According to the latest report from the North Dakota Department of Health, two dozen new coronavirus deaths were reported in North Dakota between Tuesday and Wednesday. More deaths were reported in the state on Wednesday than in the entire months of March, April, June or July.
The Department of Health noted a significant delay in reporting the wave of new deaths, noting that six people reported on Wednesday died between four and seven days ago. Eighteen of the deaths reported Wednesday have occurred since the beginning of this week.
In total, 304 people have died from coronavirus-related complications in North Dakota since March, according to the Department of Health. Deaths have increased in North Dakota over the past five weeks, and the state reports 1
The 13 men and 11 women reported dead on Wednesday were from 11 different counties and all had underlying health conditions, according to the health department. Five of the dead were from Morton County, which lies west of the Missouri River from Bismarck. Four deaths occurred in rural Bottineau County, where a nursing home suffered a mass epidemic.
North Dakota also reported 495 new COVID cases on Wednesday, bringing the total of active cases across the state to 3,706.
The huge mid-week death toll comes as the North Dakota health system has experienced a shortage of hospital beds in the past week. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 39 ICU beds and 245 standard inpatient beds available in the state, according to an internal count from the North Dakota Department of Health. These numbers differ from what the department reports on the state’s COVID-19 public dashboard because the state publicly reports the number of hospital beds authorized, rather than the number of beds managed by medical professionals, according to spokeswoman Nicole Peske.
Compared to last week, the pressure on hospital capacity across the state appears to have eased, with most major hospital systems reporting more inpatient and intensive care beds open Tuesday afternoon. The number of hospitalizations across the state remained stable on Wednesday, with 116 people reported hospitalized due to complications from the coronavirus.
But the situation remains tense in some local hotspots. Bismarck, Dickinson, and Minot are all handling particularly heavy patient volumes, leaving only four ICU beds in Bismarck on Tuesday, three in Dickinson and three in Minot. All three health systems also reported inpatient bed shortages, fourteen in Bismarck, four in Dickinson, and one in Minot.
The state’s largest hotspot persists in Burleigh County, where 80 new cases were reported on Wednesday. Burleigh and neighboring Morton County, which includes Bismarck and Mandan, report 883 active cases.
A hot spot in Cass County, which includes Fargo and West Fargo, continues to grow, reporting 134 new cases on Wednesday, more than any other county. Cass is reporting 621 active cases.
Hot spots also persist in some smaller western counties. Sixteen new cases were reported in Stark County, which includes Dickinson, in Tuesday’s report, for 256 active positives in the county. Meanwhile, Williams County, which includes Williston, has 240 active cases and Ward County, which includes Minot, manages 242.
Approximately 7.9% of the 6,260 residents tested as part of the last batch received a positive result and 13.8% of the residents tested for the first time had a positive result.
North Dakota does not report a seven-day moving average for the positivity rate, but Forum News Service calculated that the rate is 7.3% for all residents tested and approximately 13.5% for tests performed on previously untested residents.
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Readers can contact reporter Adam Willis, a member of the Report for America corps, at email@example.com.