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Active COVID-19 cases up steeply this week in North Dakota; Burleigh has another death

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Active COVID-19 cases continued a sharp upward climb in North Dakota on Friday, an increase likely driven in part by the fast-spreading delta variant and continued vaccine apathy.

Meanwhile, coronavirus transmission in Burleigh and Morton counties continued at a level where the counties remained under new federal guidance regarding mask-wearing. And state officials confirmed another virus-related death in Burleigh.

The state Health Department's virus dashboard on Friday showed 431 active cases North Dakota, with 109 of them in Burleigh-Morton. Active cases since the start of the week have increased by 60% in the two counties and by 82% statewide.

Eighty-five new virus cases were confirmed Friday from 1,896 tests completed Thursday. State officials calculated a positivity rate of 4.6%, and a 14-day rolling average test positivity rate of 2.8%. The latter rate has climbed steadily since a recent low of 1.05% on July 5, though it remains within the target range of less than 5%. 

The newly confirmed virus cases brought North Dakota's pandemic total to 111,570, with 109,600 recoveries, 1,539 deaths and 4,393 hospitalizations.

One new death was confirmed Friday, according to the dashboard. The state no longer publicly reports the county, sex and age range of newly confirmed deaths, but Burleigh's total increased by one, to 197. Morton's total remained at 102.

Eleven COVID-19 patients remained in a hospital in the state on Friday, down from 18 just two days earlier. But state health officials are urging people who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus to get a shot, to help stem another pandemic spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Adult vaccinations in North Dakota began to plateau two months ago. The state's vaccine dashboard on Friday showed 49.4% of eligible adults are considered fully vaccinated. That's up only about 3% from two weeks ago. And health officials consider 70% to be the minimum needed for herd immunity.

COVID-19 numbers are spiking around the country as the delta variant spreads, accounting for most new cases. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week recommended that people wear masks in public indoor settings in areas with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission. That's calculated based on new cases per capita and testing results.

In North Dakota there were 17 counties in those two categories on Friday afternoon: Burleigh, Dunn, Golden Valley, Kidder, Logan, McHenry, McKenzie, McLean, Morton, Mountrail, Oliver, Pierce, Renville, Sheridan, Stark, Ward and Wells, according to the CDC's COVID-19 data tracker website. Burleigh had fallen under the mask guidance the previous two days, and Morton on Thursday.

More information

A list of free COVID-19 testing offered by local public health units is at health.nd.gov/covidtesting. People can go to health.nd.gov/covidvaccinelocator or call 866-207-2880 to see where COVID-19 vaccine is available near them. For more detailed information on coronavirus in North Dakota, go to www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus.

For more information on coronavirus variants, go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant.html. For information on county-level virus transmission risks, go to https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view.

Reach Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or blake.nicholson@bismarcktribune.com.

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