Following visit from Deborah Birx, North Dakota reports 1 death, 219 new COVID-19 cases

Bismarck's Burleigh County reported the greatest number of new cases with 44, while Fargo's Cass County added 41 cases. Jamestown's Stutsman County posted 28 new cases. Grand Forks County and Minot's Ward County added 24 new cases.

3D print of a SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—virus particle. The virus surface (blue) is covered with spike proteins (red) that enable the virus to enter and infect human cells. National Institutes of Health

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health reported 219 new COVID-19 cases in the state as well as one new death from the virus Sunday morning, Aug. 30.

The deceased was a Burleigh County female in her 90s with underlying health conditions.

The death moves the state's total number of deaths from COVID-19 to 142. Of the deaths, 114 list the virus as the primary cause of death, while 27 others list it as a secondary cause or are pending death records. North Dakota's COVID-19 mortality rate stands at 1.21%, according to a Forum News Service analysis of state records.

Bismarck's Burleigh County reported the greatest number of new cases with 44, while Fargo's Cass County added 41 cases. Jamestown's Stutsman County posted 28 new cases. Grand Forks County and Minot's Ward County each added 24 new cases.

Williston's Williams County, Dickinson's Stark County and Mandan's Morton County posted nine, eight and seven new cases, respectively. Barnes, Benson, Bottineau, Eddy, Hettinger, Kidder, Logan, McHenry, McKenzie, McLean, Nelson, Ramsey, Ransom, Richland, Rolette and Walsh counties each added five or fewer new cases.


Active cases in the state continued their record rise, with Sunday's 2,481 marking a pandemic high for the state. Active cases in North Dakota have risen 125% since the month of August began.

The August rise has come as the state has increased its testing capacity. The state has conducted an average of 5,306 tests per day in the month, the highest monthly testing average since the pandemic reached the state. The state reported more than 6,000 daily test nine times in August and on four of those days reported over 7,000 tests.

"North Dakota has one of the most robust testing capacities, which they continue to expand," Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House, said at her Saturday press conference in Fargo. "Not only do they have that capacity, but they use that capacity for good."

The rise in active cases is also attributed to an increasing positivity rate. The positivity rate for new tests eclipsed 5% on four occasions in August, twice rising above 7%. Currently, the state's seven-day moving average positivity rate stands at 4.98% and has risen for 13 consecutive days.

Following a rapid increase over the past week, Grand Forks County leads the state in active cases. The county, which is home to the University of North Dakota, currently has 577 active cases, up 103% from last Sunday. As of Sunday morning, UND has reported a total of 316 "current self-reported" cases among faculty, staff and students. Cases among out-of-state students count toward the county in which they attend classes, while cases among in-state students count toward their home counties.

Burleigh County ranks second in the state in active cases with 460, a 12% increase from a week ago. Bismarck State College reported nine active cases among students and employees Sunday.

Cass County has 268 active cases, marking a 76% increase over the past week. As of Friday, Aug. 28, North Dakota State University has announced 41 cases among students and employees.


Active cases increased 14% to 208 over the past week in Stark County. Dickinson State University reported 18 active cases.

Four rural counties — Billings, Burke, Renville and Steele — currently do not have any active cases.

Calling North Dakotans "common-sense and practical," Birx called on more residents to wear masks while out in public. Birx visited a coffee shop in downtown Fargo, where she said everyone was wearing masks, but reported seeing waiters and patrons not wearing masks at a local diner.

Birx lauded the state's Vulnerable Population Protection Plan, which has been deployed in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other congregate living facilities. Birx, who is driving across the county to learn about how states are responding to the pandemic, plans to share the plan on the next governor's call and said Gov. Doug Burgum's office will be "very busy" fielding calls from other states on the plan.

According to Burgum, the state ranks in the top five nationally in mortality rate among vulnerable populations. The state has reported 77 deaths in long-term care facilities.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 5,934,824 cases of COVID-19 and 182,149 deaths from the illness.

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Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over three years, primarily reporting on business news. He's also the host of the InForum Business Beat podcast, which can be streamed at or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reach him at or by calling 701-241-5518. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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