North Dakota's Department of Health on Wednesday reported four new COVID-19 deaths and a single-day high of 102 cases that includes two outbreaks in nursing homes in Morton County.
Four Cass County men, ranging in age from their 60s to 80s, who all had underlying health conditions have died, bringing the state death toll to 49. One death was on Monday. The others were on Tuesday.
Total cases stand at 2,095, 744 of which are active. The new cases reported Wednesday included 49 in Cass County, 23 in Morton County, 18 in Traill County, three in Burleigh County, two each in Grand Forks and Richland counties and one apiece in Nelson, Stutsman, Walsh, Ward and Williams counties.
Gov. Doug Burgum said most of the new Morton County cases are related to outbreaks in nursing homes in Glen Ullin and New Salem. There are 10 cases at Marion Manor in Glen Ullin and nine at Elm Crest Manor in New Salem, according to Department of Health data. The new cases were found during an effort to test all long-term care facilities in the state, Burgum said.
"As we move with the excitement towards more opening up, we also ... are taking on more risk and one of the risk areas is long-term care, congregant living," the governor said.
Meanwhile, Burgum said Tuesday state officials are developing guidelines that could allow visitation to resume in some long-term care facilities, but Burgum said that may vary by county or by facility.
Thirty-eight coronavirus patients remain hospitalized of 142 total since the pandemic began. State and private labs have processed 72,003 tests, including 2,105 reported Wednesday.
Of those total tests, 59,200 people have been tested, some more than once.
More than 1,300 people in North Dakota have recovered from the respiratory disease caused by the virus.
Cass County, home to Fargo, has emerged as a hot spot in the state for virus cases, having 1,277 of the state's 2,095 confirmed COVID-19 cases. About 82% of the state's active COVID-19 cases are in Cass and Grand Forks counties, 505 and 103 cases, respectively.
Burleigh and neighboring Morton County have confirmed 120 and 63 cases, respectively. Burleigh has 31 active cases. Morton has 30 active cases.
Stark County, home to Dickinson, has five active cases. Sioux County, home to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, has one active case. The tribe reported earlier this week that there are another three active cases in Corson County, which encompasses the southern half of the reservation in South Dakota.
In other matters:
- Burgum announced North Dakota's involvement, along with Alabama and North Carolina, in a new Apple-Google app called Care19 Exposure for notifying users of potential exposure to COVID-19. The app relies on Bluetooth proximity. More than 33,400 smartphone users in North Dakota have downloaded the original Care19 app, now called Care19 Diary, for aiding contact tracing via GPS data. Burgum stressed the apps are voluntary and anonymous. The new app will be available within two weeks.
- Reopening the state Capitol and facilities to state employees and public access might come in a "hybrid" form in future weeks, Burgum said. About 7,100 state employees are working from home. The Capitol is open by appointment only with screening procedures in place. Burgum said there will likely be new approaches for health, work productivity and customer service, and "it's not about a race to try to pack the building with a bunch of people and then have an outbreak in the Capitol."
- The governor said the state lab has 16,840 test kits ready to be distributed throughout the state. That number does not include inventory already available at testing locations, he said. He encouraged people with symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19 to seek a test.
Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.