North Dakota's coronavirus pandemic death toll has increased by three, but active COVID-19 cases have fallen for a third consecutive day.
The new deaths reported Tuesday brought the state's total since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 to 1,576. Burleigh County's death total on the state Health Department's coronavirus dashboard increased by one, to 208, while Morton County's total remained unchanged at 102.
Virus-related deaths had dropped significantly since reaching a pandemic high of 500 during November, but they've been increasing in recent weeks as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus spreads. The state in the past seven days has reported 12 deaths. As a comparison, 11 were reported in all of July. Deaths don't necessarily occur on the day they're reported, as death certificate filings can take up to 10 days under state law.
The Health Department on Tuesday confirmed 373 new coronavirus cases from 4,513 tests completed Monday, and calculated a positivity rate of 8.48%. The state's 14-day rolling average test positivity rate was at 6.34%, remaining above the state target of less than 5%.
The number of COVID-19 patients in North Dakota hospitals dropped by nine, to 100. State data showed 195 available staffed inpatient beds and 15 available intensive care unit beds statewide. In Bismarck, however, neither Sanford Health nor CHI St. Alexius Health had any available staffed beds or ICU beds listed.
Sanford Health in a weekly update about COVID-19 hospitalizations across its multistate system reported that 87% of its 141 virus patients were unvaccinated.
North Dakota has confirmed 123,104 COVID-19 cases during the pandemic, with 118,816 recoveries and 4,905 hospitalizations. Active virus cases on Tuesday numbered 2,712 statewide, with 650 in Burleigh-Morton.
Health officials are urging people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to get a shot. The state's vaccine dashboard shows 51.8% of eligible North Dakota adults and 28.2% of adolescents in the 12-18 age group are considered fully vaccinated. People can go to health.nd.gov/covidvaccinelocator or call 866-207-2880 to see where COVID-19 vaccine is available near them.
The coronavirus transmission risk is considered substantial or high in all but five of North Dakota's 53 counties, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 data tracker website. The CDC recommends people in those risk categories wear masks in public indoor settings. Burleigh and Morton counties both are in the high category.
A list of free COVID-19 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. For more information on coronavirus variants, go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant.html.