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North Dakota's active COVID-19 cases jump, hospitalizations climb steadily

For the second day in a row, North Dakota reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases, a single-day threshold it had not met at any point during the pandemic prior to this week. Virus hospitalizations have climbed from 122 in the first week of January to 170 on Thursday.

A coronavirus graphic. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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BISMARCK — North Dakota's active COVID-19 cases rose over 9,500 on Thursday, Jan. 20, returning to levels near the height of the fall 2020 surge, while virus hospitalizations climbed slightly, following an upward trend of recent weeks.

For the second day in a row, the North Dakota Department of Health reported more than 3,000 new virus cases as the fast-spreading omicron variant of the virus continued to spread across the state. Prior to this week, North Dakota had not reported more than 3,000 new cases in a single day at any point in the pandemic.

The state's rolling average positivity rate climbed to a pandemic high 18.7% on Thursday, marking the sixth day in a row that the metric set a new record.

Following are the COVID-19 case rates, deaths and hospitalizations tracked by the North Dakota Department of Health as of Thursday. Because all data are preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

Statewide case rates

  • ACTIVE CASES: 9,525

North Dakota's active COVID-19 cases climbed more than 1,200 over the previous day. Active cases have increased more than fivefold since the beginning of the month.
Officials with the state Department of Health recently estimated the omicron strain accounts for at least 90% of the COVID-19 cases in the state. The variant has seemed to cause a milder illness for many people than previous strains, but public health leaders said over the weekend "the sheer number of (virus) patients is flooding hospitals and clinics with sick people."


Cass County, which encompasses Fargo, has the most active cases in the state at 2,886. Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck, has 1,431 active cases, while Grand Forks County has 1,003.

Rolette County leads the state in cases per capita by a wide margin; however, the county that includes the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation has done proportionally more testing than any other county.

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 2,061

Virus hospitalizations have increased steadily over the last two weeks, climbing from 122 on Jan. 7 to 170 on Thursday.
The state reported just 16 available intensive care beds and 156 regular inpatient beds across the state in the latest reporting.


  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 484,690 (62.2% of population)
  • FULL VACCINE COVERAGE: 406,065 (52.5% of population)
  • BOOSTER DOSES ADMINISTERED: 171,153 (22.0% of population)

The top two figures come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , which includes vaccinations performed at federal sites, while the bottom figure comes from the state's vaccine dashboard , which gives a fuller picture of booster and third doses.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at

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