Port: Rate of positive cornavirus remains relatively steady even during spike in number of tests

Armed with about 1,800 test kits, North Dakota health officials and National Guard members tested hundreds for the coronavirus Saturday, April 25 at the Fargodome. C.S. Hagen / The Forum

MINOT, N.D. -- Gov. Doug Burgum has been talking about the need for widespread testing for the COVID-19 virus as a way to gather data that can be used to begin re-opening North Dakota's society.

Over the last few days, that has begun in earnest, with far more tests being conducted than in previous days.

So far, the news from those tests is pretty good.

If we can say that testing is the window through which we see the scope of the virus in our state, this new and larger window we're looking through is showing us about the same picture we saw before.

Which is to say, a mostly low rate of infection.


More testing has meant more positives , sure, but the rate of those positives has remained low as you can see from this chart I've assembled from data released by the North Dakota Department of Health.

The red line shows the daily number of tests conducted. The blue bars represent the percentage of those tests coming back positive:

PHOTO: Positive coronavirus tests chart

North Dakota has mostly enjoyed a relatively low rate of positive tests throughout the coronavirus crisis. The big spike you see around April 20 was contemporaneous to the outbreak at the LM Windpower facility in Grand Forks .

Outside of that circumstance, as you can see, the rate of positives has been relatively low and steady despite fluctuations in the number of tests performed.

Most encouragingly, even despite the dramatic increase in testing we've seen in recent days.

For those hoping to see some climb down from the restrictions we've put in place to fight the virus, this is very encouraging news.


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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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