health as it happens

North Dakota reports 4 COVID-19 deaths as outbreak worsens - INFORUM


The latest surge driven by the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 has put the state on a trajectory for a harsh fall. North Dakota has close to 1,000 more active cases now than it did at the same time last year.

A coronavirus graphic.Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


A coronavirus graphic. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

BISMARCK — North Dakota health officials on Thursday, Sept. 9, reported another jump in COVID-19 cases, a rise in hospitalizations and the deaths of four residents from the disease.

The latest surge driven by the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 has put the state on a trajectory for a harsh fall. North Dakota has close to 1,000 more active cases now than it did at the same time last year.

Hospitals officials warn that the worsening outbreak could overwhelm the state's health care system if more residents don't buy into vaccination, mask-wearing and social distancing.

Statewide case rates


  • ACTIVE CASES*: 2,945




WDAY logo

Newsletter signup for email alerts

*The Department of Health often amends the number of active cases after they are first reported.

North Dakota's active cases rose 226 over the previous day as infections climb toward a peak that hospital administrators say could hit the state by the end of the month. Active cases have multiplied more than fivefold since the beginning of August.

Cass County, which encompasses Fargo, has the most known active cases in the state with 621. Burleigh County has 487 known cases as of Thursday, and Grand Forks County has 268. McKenzie County, which encompasses Watford City and has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state, leads in cases per capita.

The state's 14-day rolling average positivity rate is 6.6%.

A more than 93% vaccination rate among nursing home residents has held the virus in check within long-term care facilities even as the state's virus numbers grow exponentially. The state reported 13 resident cases and 50 staff cases on Thursday. Over the course of the pandemic, nursing home residents have made up almost 60% of virus-related deaths.

Hospitalizations, deaths


  • DEATHS: 4

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 1,571

The state reported four deaths Thursday, including three in Burleigh County and one in Ward County. The department no longer provides information about the gender or age of deceased residents.

Hospitalizations rose by 17 over the previous day as health care providers struggle to keep up rising admissions amid staffing shortages. Unlike last fall's COVID-19 peak, hospitals are dealing with many noncoronavirus patients on top of high-maintenance COVID-19 patients.

North Dakota had 15 staffed intensive care beds available throughout the state as of Wednesday, along with 177 staffed inpatient beds, according to a health department database. Bismarck's two hospitals had no available ICU or inpatient beds, while Fargo's three hospitals had a combined seven ICU beds and six inpatient beds. The bed capacity figures only reveal capacity at a single point in time, and hospitals may actually have more or fewer beds open than when they reported to the Department of Health, said Emergency Preparedness Chief Tim Wiedrich.

The department recently began releasing data about "breakthrough" cases in fully vaccinated residents. During the week of Sept. 5, the state reported just two of the 25 hospitalizations came in fully vaccinated residents.


  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED*: 353,728 (53.3% of population ages 12 and up)

  • FULL VACCINE COVERAGE*: 325,893 (49.1% of population ages 12 and up)

*These figures come from the state's vaccine dashboard, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes vaccinations performed at federal sites, reports slightly higher vaccination rates.

North Dakota ranks in the bottom ten states in vaccination rate, but fear of the delta variant has spurred a slight increase in vaccination rate over the last few weeks, said state immunization coordinator Molly Howell.

Even though a person can be infected with COVID-19 after they are fully vaccinated, health officials emphasize that those who are immunized often experience less severe symptoms and are less likely to be hospitalized.

More information about vaccines can be found at

As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status. If this coverage is important to you, please consider supporting local journalism by clicking on the subscribe button in the upper righthand corner of the homepage.