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State reports 12 more COVID-19 deaths; cases rise in Bismarck-Mandan schools

State reports 12 more COVID-19 deaths; cases rise in Bismarck-Mandan schools

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North Dakota health officials on Tuesday reported a dozen more coronavirus-related deaths in the state and a sixth straight day of record active cases of COVID-19.

The number of state residents who are positive stands at 4,600, up 54 from the previous day and nearly 900 higher than last Wednesday, after which active cases have set records on a daily basis. Burleigh and Morton counties have a combined total of 1,009 active cases. Cass County, home to Fargo, has 978.

Total active cases in the Bismarck and Mandan public school systems have increased this week. Bismarck Public Schools reported cases in 52 students and staff, up 24 from last week; Mandan Public Schools reported 14 total cases, up one. In Bismarck schools, student cases rose by nine and staff cases increased by 15.

State health officials on Tuesday reported 517 new cases of COVID-19 statewide, including 109 in Burleigh, 32 in Morton and 160 in Cass, raising the state total since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March to 28,245.

Coronavirus in North Dakota Active

The Department of Health reported the coronavirus-related deaths of a Morton County man in his 90s, raising the county's total to 44, and also the deaths of people in the counties of Bottineau, Bowman, McHenry, Mountrail, Walsh, Ward and Williams. Four of the 12 deaths were in Bottineau County, raising the north central county's total to 13. It was the first reported death in Bowman County, in the state's southwestern corner.

All of the new victims had underlying conditions, according to the state. They raised North Dakota's pandemic death total to 357.

Hospitalizations statewide were stable at 158, which is still a high for the state and more than double the figure a month ago.

Hospital capacity is a concern around North Dakota. There were 241 available staffed inpatient beds plus 32 intensive care unit beds in North Dakota on Tuesday, according to state data. There were two available staffed beds plus one ICU bed in Bismarck, all at Sanford Health. CHI St. Alexius Health had none for a second straight day.

Bismarck Mayor Steve Bakken and four other North Dakota mayors signed a letter calling on the public to take steps to prevent “another significant wave of this virus” to avoid business restrictions that were in place last spring. The letter, submitted to the Tribune late Tuesday, asks the public to wear masks, follow social distancing guidelines and limit social interactions to small groups.

The letter also asked for “increased diligence” from businesses related to ND Smart Restart recommendations, including limits on occupant capacity.

“Further disregard may lead to the necessity of enforcement. Large events should be delayed whenever possible, until further notice,” reads the letter, also signed by mayors of Fargo, West Fargo, Minot and Grand Forks.

Statewide, there have been 23,288 recoveries and 1,126 hospitalizations. The number of state residents tested for coronavirus at least once is at 261,745 and total tests number 723,102, including 5,452 handled Monday.

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.

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

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