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North Dakota adds 15 COVID-related deaths

North Dakota adds 15 COVID-related deaths

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Hospitalizations and active cases of COVID-19 reached record levels on Saturday in North Dakota, which logged 15 more coronavirus-related deaths.

The state's Department of Health reported the deaths of nine women and six men from eight counties, ranging in age from their 70s to 100s, all with underlying health conditions. Burleigh County added five deaths; neighboring Morton County added two. The state's death toll stands at 336, including 106 in the two counties.

A record 140 people remained hospitalized with COVID-19 on Saturday. 

Hospital capacity is a concern around the state and in Bismarck. There were 218 available staffed inpatient beds plus 19 intensive care unit beds in North Dakota on Saturday afternoon, according to state data. There were just six available staffed beds and one ICU bed in Bismarck.

Results from 8,693 tests included 593 new cases of COVID-19 in 43 counties, including 55 in Burleigh, 26 in Morton, 109 in Cass and 83 in Williams. 

Active cases of the virus in the state reached 4,169 on Saturday. Burleigh and Morton counties have 910 active cases. Cass County has 782 active cases. 

Long-term care rally

About a dozen people gathered at the state Capitol in Bismarck on Saturday to bring awareness to the conditions their relatives are experiencing as residents in long-term care facilities in the state. They organized on Facebook under the group North Dakota Advocacy for Long Term Care.

"We have a crisis in long-term care right now," said Beth Sanford, of Fargo.

Participants said they are supportive of the staff at the facilities, but they are frustrated by the inconsistent guidelines implemented at the 218 long-term care facilities in North Dakota. Some facilities offer limited contact or no contact for family visits during the months-long pandemic. The lack of autonomy for the residents, communication and the inability to be near a loved one is the hardest as family members see a decline in the resident's personalities and cognitive abilities, Sanford said.

"We are dealing with human beings here," she said. "It's time to break the silence."

Risk levels

Burleigh and Morton counties are in the yellow "moderate" risk level, which is in the middle of the state's five-level color-coded system. The risk level determines what sort of coronavirus-related protocols are in place under the ND Smart Restart Plan for everything from businesses to family gatherings. The protocols are not enforced.

Twenty-two other North Dakota counties are at yellow, 23 are in the green or "low" risk level and six are in the blue "new normal" level. The state reviews the county risk levels on a weekly basis. 

The state's COVID-19 Smart Restart County Analysis data dashboard can be accessed at www.health.nd.gov/healthmetrics. For more detailed information on coronavirus in North Dakota, go to health.nd.gov/coronavirus

Testing this week

Free public COVID-19 testing events are being conducted in various areas again this week. They're open to all ages on a first-come, first-served basis, unless otherwise specified. Listed testing hours could be reduced if supplies run out.

Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health and Bismarck State College are hosting free COVID-19 testing weekly on Mondays in the BSC Armory, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Testing is open to all BSC students and employees. Those wishing to be tested should sign up for a time slot  at https://bit.ly/30u0apl and preregister at testreg.nd.gov

Custer Health will have an event from 9-10 a.m. CDT Monday at Zion Lutheran Church in Elgin.

People should take state Highway 49 onto the frontage road, drive to Third Avenue Northeast and enter the north end of the church parking lot. After being tested, they will exit onto Second Avenue Northeast.

Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health will host an event at the Bismarck Event Center on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

People should enter Parking Lot D -- to the south of the Event Center, across Bowen Avenue -- from Seventh Street. Testing will be conducted inside the Event Center.

Custer Health is hosting an event Wednesday at Dacotah Speedway in Mandan, from 1-2 p.m.

People should approach the site from the southeast on Longspur Trail. Longspur Trail is accessible by Redwing Drive and 32nd Avenue Southeast, both off Memorial Highway. After being tested, people will exit onto 24th Avenue Southeast and travel north.

Emmons County Public Health is testing from 10-11 a.m. on Thursday at 118 E. Spruce Ave. in Linton. People are asked to stay in their vehicles, where they will be tested.

Preregistration for all events is available at https://testreg.nd.gov/. It speeds up the process but does not guarantee a test.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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Capitol Reporter

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