'Nothing would take us by surprise anymore:' Health experts confident in handling uptick in COVID cases

The North Dakota Department of Health reported 1,958 cases from July 29 to August 4, it's highest count since February of this year.

A COVID-19 testing event at Family Healthcare in Downtown Fargo.
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FARGO — COVID cases are seeing a late-summer uptick.

The North Dakota department of health reported 1,952 COVID-19 cases over the last week. Those are the highest numbers reported in one week since February of this year, when cases were starting to wind down when the omicron varian was rapidly spreading across the country.

"When we compare activity from this summer to similar time periods in the previous summers of the pandemic, and you'll notice that there's considerably more disease activity this summer," said Shawn McBride, an epidemiologist with Grand Forks Public Health.

He says part of the reason for that is because the dominant variant of COVID being spread right now is the BA 5 subvariant, which spreads very quickly.

"With the start of school and universities and things, I think we do see more of an uptick," McBride said.


Fortunately, he says we're much more well equipped to handle an uptick this year. For one, a large proportion of the population has either been vaccinated or infected already, and vaccines and home test kits are widely available across the country.

Only 56.5% of North Dakotans are fully vaccinated, and McBride says the predominant strain of coronavirus is very effective at finding the most susceptible people.

Essentia Health infection disease consultant Dr. Bertha Ayi says the most important tool in our arsenal to fight the spread are vaccinations and boosters.

"Never in history has such an effective, highly, highly effective vaccine being developed within less than 12 months of an outbreak," Ayi said.

After well over two years of the country living with COVID, Dr. Ali has hope it will one day not be a part of our lives.

"COVID has been a game changer, but we've overcome it in many ways, and we will continue to overcome it," she said. "Nothing would take us by surprise anymore."

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