Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



North Dakota's COVID-19 positivity rate sets record, surpasses peak of fall 2020 surge

Active virus cases fell in North Dakota on Monday following low weekend testing. The omicron variant has pushed virus case numbers up at an unprecedented rate in the last two weeks.

A billboard states 201 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 at Sanford, 88% of whom are not vaccinated.
A billboard display on Main Avenue and 45th Street shows the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in our area on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.
David Samson / The Forum

BISMARCK — North Dakota's active COVID-19 cases dropped by several thousand on Monday, Jan. 17, following low testing over the weekend, while its positivity rate shot past the peak set during the height of the fall 2020 surge.

The extremely contagious omicron variant pushed virus totals up at an unprecedented rate in North Dakota over the last two weeks, surpassing 9,800 active cases in updated figures from Friday, Jan. 14, the highest level since late 2020's deadly virus surge.

Active cases dropped back below 7,000 on Monday, following the typical pattern for the first day of a new week.

Over the weekend, officials with the North Dakota Department of Health estimated the omicron variant now accounts for at least 90% of the COVID-19 cases circulating in the state. The variant has so far proven milder for many people than previous strains, but public health leaders urged caution for North Dakota residents, noting "the sheer number of (virus) patients is flooding hospitals and clinics with sick people."

"While this variant is milder for some, we should not underestimate how serious this virus is, and we should each take proactive measures to protect against infection," said Kirby Kruger, the health department's head of disease control and forensic pathology, noting case numbers are climbing for people of all ages. Three children under age 5 were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday.


Numerous North Dakota pandemic records have fallen with omicron raging in recent weeks. Last Thursday, the state registered a pandemic high 2,600 new cases in a single day .

Public health officials continue to stress the importance of vaccination and booster shots as the most effective way of preventing severe infection, hospitalization and death.

The Department of Health noted over the weekend that monoclonal antibodies, which have proven an effective treatment for severe COVID-19, are in short supply. Only one of the three monoclonal antibodies therapies works well against the omicron variant, and the state was allotted just 72 doses of that treatment last week.

Following are the COVID-19 case rates, deaths and hospitalizations from the North Dakota Department of Health as of Monday.

Statewide case rates

  • ACTIVE CASES: 6,955

North Dakota's 14-day positivity rate has surged past its previous peak in recent days, climbing to 16.7% on Monday. The measure for the prevalence of positive virus tests capped at 15.9% in mid-November of 2020, the height of that year's surge.
Cass County, which encompasses Fargo, reported the most known active cases in the state Monday with 2,034. Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck, had 1,074 active cases, and Grand Forks County had 783 active cases.

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 2,046

The health department has reported one new COVID-19 death since the end of last week.
Hospital capacity has been scarce in recent days, according to a statewide database , with just 20 ICU beds and 184 regular inpatient beds available statewide in the latest reporting.


  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 481,180 (61.2% of population)
  • FULL VACCINE COVERAGE: 406,049 (52.1% of population)
  • BOOSTER DOSES ADMINISTERED: 167,351 (20.1% of population)

The top two figures were calculated using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , while the bottom figure was calculated with figures from the state's vaccine dashboard . The Department of Health encourages people to find out more about the COVID-19 vaccine at www.health.nd.gov/protect.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at awillis@forumcomm.com.

What To Read Next
Get Local