COVID-19 Sign .tiff

Local pandemic rates dropping in Bowman and Adams counties, but still leaving impact in southwestern North Dakota. One local motel closed their rooms to the general public because of the COVID spike.

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After being called the world’s hot spot when it came to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Dakota has seen some of the of high numbers in daily positivity rate drop to 6.9 percent by Sunday.

Just about a week earlier, it was over 10 percent (Nov. 28).

That was a big drop from 16.5 percent daily positive rate ten days earlier.

While that drop has brought the rate close to the target Gov. Doug Burgum had called five percent early in the summer months.

According to the statistics released by NDResponse, the state is still at 10 percent in the 14-day positivity rate. That is a dramatic drop from the 15.9 percent peak on Nov. 17.

But while the state has seen a dramatic drop in the daily positivity rate and a sizable drop in the 14-day rolling positive rate, it has seen a continual rise in fatalities.

As of Sunday’s release of the number of fatalities across the state, the number had climbed to 1,013 since the pandemic hit North Dakota. Bowman County has had three deaths.

That is still a large increase from the 769 fatalities logged Nov. 18. There were large double-digit jumps since then, including 23 (Nov. 20) and 16 a day later. Just before Thanksgiving (Nov. 24), there were 37 added to the list.

That dramatic jump in fatalities continued Dec. 1 when 27 were reported and another 18 reported Dec. 5 when the state climbed over 1,000 fatalities for the year.

So far this year Bowman County has processed 4,633 tests with a total of 193 positives for an overall positivity rate of 13.85 percent.

Locally, the county has seen 178 people recover.

The most recent tests found no positives among the ten people, giving the county a zero positivity rate.

The county had a 14.71 percent 14-day rolling positive rate on Oct. 22, but has dropped since then. It had dropped to 2.51 percent by Nov. 17 and was 3.95 percent on Dec. 5.

Adams County spikes

Bowman County’s neighbor to the east has had a battle with the virus. In mid-October, Adams County had an 18.4 14-day rolling positivity rate.

Since then, the county has seen a series of spikes in the 14-day rolling positivity rate. On Halloween, it was 15.56 percent. Two weeks later, it had dropped to 7.0 percent. Then it climbed again to 11.08 percent (Nov. 20) and 13.5 percent (Nov. 28). As of Dec. 5, the Adams County 14-day positive rate has dropped to 8.28 percent.

As of Sunday, the county announced one positive out of 48 tests processed for a 2.13 percent daily positivity rate.

The community has been hit hard by the pandemic, according to recent public statements by a doctor and the CEO of West River Health Services.

Joshua Ranum, who specializes in internal medicine at the hospital, said it has isolated one wing of the hospital as the designated COVID unit. That unit has been running at capacity for most of the last two months, he explained at a Bismarck news conference set up by the governor two weeks ago.

“What we have seen is a steady increase in cases in our area. Granted, that is one of the things that is going to happen with a virus like this. We have seen the strain this has put on our local health system. We have also seen the capacity issues that have occurred across the state,” he said at the time.

Earlier in November, CEO Matthew Shahan, was interviewed on a national morning television show on how the pandemic surge strained providing health care around Hettinger and other nearby communities.

“Our hospital is much like the rest of rural hospitals in this country. We have what we would normally be dealing with during these times, then you add on top of it the Coronavirus pandemic and what it is creating is an unsustainable model for rural health care.

“From a staffing standpoint, we only have so many people we can draw in and those people are tired. Many times, they work other jobs. They have farms and ranches at home that they have to take care of.

“Quite honestly, they are burned out already,” he explained.

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