North Dakota reports new daily high of coronavirus cases
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota, among the nation’s hotspots for the coronavirus spread, reported a new high of daily new cases on Friday and 18 more deaths.
Health officials confirmed 877 new cases of the virus. Since the pandemic began, the state of fewer than 800,000 people has seen a total of 388 deaths and more than 30,000 total cases.
The surge in cases and deaths statewide spurred Gov. Doug Burgum to raise the coronavirus risk level in several North Dakota counties this week. But he issued no mandated restrictions, and has declined during the pandemic to make masks mandatory in public, calling instead for voluntary use.
The new deaths reported Friday include 10 women and eight men, all in their 60s or older. All had underlying health conditions.
The COVID Tracking project reported that the state has had 978 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, which leads the nation. The rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 54% in the lasts two weeks.
Kirby Kruger, director of the state Department of Health’s Division of Disease Control, told the State Health Council on Friday that health officials and their contractors are able to contact more than 90 percent of those who test positive within 24 hours to begin contact tracing, a process that attempts to track down people who may have been in contact with those infected.
Kruger told the nine-member advisory panel that each positive case has resulted in about four or five contacts who are informed they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms of the virus.
About 70 percent of those contacted take preventative measures if they are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, Kruger said.
The state reported a record 148 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, with 19 available intensive-care unit beds and 236 open beds overall.
North Dakota’s death count is the 23rd highest per capita in the country.