BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Friday, July 10, announced 84 new cases of COVID-19 on another high-testing day.
There are now 573 residents of the state known to be infected with the illness — more than double the number of active cases on North Dakota's recent low point of June 22. North Dakota's pandemic-high number of active cases came May 21, when 670 residents were infected, but the state is now performing many more tests than it did then.
Only about 1.5% of the 5,573 test results announced Friday came back positive, but more than two-thirds of those tested as part of the latest batch of results had been tested previously.
Twenty-four of the new cases came from Burleigh County, which encompasses Bismarck. The county now has the most known active cases in the state at 168 — a 120% increase from the beginning of the month. Two new cases were reported from Morton County, which includes Mandan. The county now has 43 known active cases.
Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday, July 8, said state officials are closely monitoring the Bismarck-area outbreak, but they aren't yet focused on establishing a coronavirus task force like they did in Fargo two months ago.
Renae Moch, the director of Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health, said the escalation of mass testing by state and local health officials in the capital city has significantly contributed to the rising case count. Moch said the real indicator of an outbreak, the rate of positive tests, remained low at about 2%. If that figure creeps up as it did in Fargo during the May surge, Moch said officials would look into taking more drastic measures.
Nineteen of the new cases came from Cass County, which includes Fargo and West Fargo. Of the 2,421 residents known to have had the illness in the county, 132 are currently infected.
Nine new cases came from Grand Forks County, which has 36 known active cases.
The other 30 new cases Friday came from 16 different counties.
The department says 85 North Dakotans have died from the illness, including 70 residents of Cass County. Sixty-one of the deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
There are still four deaths that remain in a "presumed positive" category, which means a medical professional determined that COVID-19 was a cause of death but the person was not tested for the illness while he or she was alive.
Burgum said the state has the capacity to perform at least 5,000 tests per day, and he has urged residents to seek testing whether they have symptoms or not. The state has put on free mass testing events in the state's biggest metro areas for about a month.
The governor noted at a news conference Wednesday that the state will soon begin establishing fixed COVID-19 testing sites in large metro areas such as Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck, Dickinson and Jamestown. He said testing at the sites will still be free and open to all who come.
A total of 4,154 North Dakota residents have tested positive, but 3,496 have recovered. There are 33 residents hospitalized with the illness, up three from Thursday.
The state has announced the results of 219,737 tests, but some residents have been tested more than once.
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