Active cases of COVID-19 declined on Monday, as vaccines became available to the general public in North Dakota and state officials announced a new food aid program for families with school-age children who are learning from home.
Active cases statewide had been approaching 1,000 in recent days, but they fell by 60 on Monday, to 921, with 113 in Burleigh-Morton counties, the Health Department reported.
Officials announced 56 new cases from 1,238 tests processed Sunday, and calculated a positivity rate of 6.05%. Since the onset of the pandemic in North Dakota last March there have been 102,639 COVID-19 cases confirmed, with 100,252 recoveries, 3,929 hospitalizations and 1,466 deaths. Current hospitalizations on Monday were stable at 18, and no new deaths were reported for a third straight day.
About one-fourth of North Dakotans are considered fully vaccinated against the virus.
The vaccines have been rolled out since mid-December in phases, with people in different priority groups gaining access at different times. The Health Department on March 19 announced the move to Phase 2, which is the general public, effective March 29. Both Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health and Mandan-based Custer Health made the move earlier this month.
Pharmacies, local public health departments and private health care providers all are offering vaccines. There are 405 enrolled provider sites in the state, including 67 in Burleigh-Morton. People can go to health.nd.gov/covidvaccinelocator or call 866-207-2880 to see where COVID-19 vaccine is available near them.
State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and Department of Human Services Executive Director Chris Jones on Monday announced a new food assistance program for families whose children have been eligible for free or reduced-price school meals this school year.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program provides EBT cards to eligible families to use to buy food. Families will receive $6.82 for each day a student has been learning through distance instruction.
Eligible families will be notified -- they do not need to apply. The state estimates that about 31,400 students will qualify. Benefit amounts for each student “will really depend on the school district’s learning plan,” said Linda Schloer, director of child nutrition for the Department of Public Instruction.
All North Dakota counties are in the green "low" risk level on the state's five-level color-coded system. The risk level determines coronavirus-related protocols in place under the ND Smart Restart Plan for everything from businesses to family gatherings. Those protocols are not enforced. For more information, go to https://bit.ly/38npUYV.
The state's COVID-19 Smart Restart County Analysis data dashboard can be accessed at www.health.nd.gov/healthmetrics. A list of free testing offered by local public health units is at health.nd.gov/covidtesting. For more detailed information on coronavirus in North Dakota, go to www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus.