BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Tuesday, June 2, confirmed the deaths of four more Cass County residents from COVID-19.

The deaths of a woman in her 60s, a woman in her 80s and a man and a woman in their 90s bring North Dakota's total number of fatalities from the illness to 65. All but 11 of the deaths have come in residents of Cass County, which encompasses Fargo and has seen the vast majority of the positive cases in the state.

Like every other victim of the illness, the department said all four had underlying health conditions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says older adults and people with HIV, diabetes, asthma, liver disease or other conditions that compromise one's immune system are at a greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. However, old age itself is not considered an underlying condition.

The department on Tuesday also announced 22 new cases of COVID-19

Eighteen of the new cases Tuesday came from Cass County, which includes Fargo and West Fargo. The county now has had 1,762 known cases, but the department reports more than three-quarters of the infected residents in the county have recovered. More than 70% of the currently infected North Dakotans reside in Cass County.

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The other four new cases Tuesday came from Burleigh, Dickey, Mountrail and Ward counties.

A total of 2,646 North Dakota residents have tested positive, but four in five have recovered from the illness. There are 34 residents hospitalized with the illness, down one from Monday.

The state announced about 1,600 test results Monday, far below Gov. Doug Burgum's stated goal to perform 4,000 tests per day by the end of May. Still, North Dakota ranks among the top states in the country in testing per capita and weekends often produce lower testing numbers.

Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki said the state lab brought two new testing machines online Monday that will boost daily capacity over the goal.

Political leaders across the country have suggested that another spike in cases could be coming to American metro areas in which protesters gathered en masse to condemn police brutality. Rallies held in Fargo, Bismarck, Minot and Grand Forks drew hundreds of demonstrators over the weekend, and social distancing guidelines were not widely practiced. Nowatzki said Burgum recognizes the elevated risk of contracting the virus in large, condensed crowds and said state officials would monitor the situation.

A total of 98,717 tests have been performed, but some residents have been tested more than once. A large majority of those tested in the latest batch had previously been tested for the virus. Burgum said the state is performing regular testing of those living and working in nursing homes.

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