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November becoming one of deadliest COVID-19 months in North Dakota

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North Dakota health officials reported seven more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, raising November's total to 48 and making it the eighth-deadliest month of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly half of November's deaths have been reported in just the past three days. Modeling by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates virus-related deaths in the state will climb in the next two weeks before tailing off toward the end of the year.

North Dakota's pandemic death toll is at 1,838, with about 15% of those deaths occurring since the start of September, coinciding with the onset of the highly contagious delta variant of the virus. October was the fourth-deadliest month of the pandemic, which has persisted for about 20 months.

The Health Department no longer publicly reports the county, sex and age range of newly confirmed deaths. The agency's coronavirus dashboard death total for Burleigh County increased by one Thursday, to 250; Morton County's total was unchanged, at 123. The total for the two counties has increased by 69 since the beginning of September.

Thursday's dashboard showed 648 newly confirmed virus cases, and the 14-day rolling average test positivity rate rose for a sixth straight day, to 7.46%. The state target of less than 5% hasn't been met for three months.

Active COVID-19 cases rose again, to 3,542, with 588 in Burleigh and Morton counties.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in North Dakota were stable at 148. Close to 8% of staffed inpatient beds were available statewide and about 5% of intensive care unit beds were open, according to the most recent state data. Sanford Health Bismarck had seven available staffed general care beds and no ICU beds; CHI St. Alexius Health had no available beds listed in either category.

There have been 157,381 COVID-19 cases confirmed in North Dakota since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, with 152,001 recoveries and 6,260 hospitalizations.

More information

The state's vaccine dashboard shows 56.6% of eligible North Dakota adults and 34.4% of adolescents in the 12-18 age group are considered fully vaccinated; 6.4% of children 5-11 have received an initial vaccine dose. Shots for that age group are just getting underway. People can go to https://www.ndvax.org 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 of North Dakota's 53 counties except Cavalier, according to the CDC's COVID-19 data tracker website. The CDC recommends people in those risk categories wear masks in public indoor settings.

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.

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

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