After hitting a high of 670 active COVID-19 cases earlier this year, North Dakota steadily dropped down to 211 cases by mid-June.
That downward trend has dramatically changed direction in the past few weeks until it hit 439 in early July, more than doubling the amount of active cases in the state, in just a few weeks.
According to Gov. Doug Burgum, the dramatic jump in positives may be tied to increased testing by the state.
“It is not necessarily a big increase in the positives … but we are doing more testing and good contact tracing,” he said in his July 8 press conference. “It is returning to those levels that we saw in May.”
He added that when the state finds the cases through testing and contact tracing, they could get the people isolated to prevent further spreading of the virus.
The governor also said a positive side to the 439 number of active cases is that only 15 were residents in long-term care facilities in the state.
“We made it a huge priority in our state to not only protect lives and also livelihoods, but the people who are most vulnerable.... the people who have both age and underlying health conditions. Those folks are often found in long-term care.
“That is a fantastic number, so thanks to everybody that works in long term care,” the governor added.
The state has seen a dramatic rise in cases, Gov. Burgum admitted, but still is one of the states that has been less impacted by the pandemic. “One standard that they are using around the world is they are looking at is under five percent with adequate testing for 14 days. North Dakota has been under that level for months and months. Even as we sit here, there are 28 states out of 50 that do not meet the standard of being under five percent in testing for 14 days.
“North Dakota is well positioned and has been well-prepared and we want to keep the string rolling that we have got going here. That is a team effort that requires everyone,” he said.
In the July 8 press conference, the governor announced that the state 360 positive cases in the previous seven days, bringing the total positives to 3,971 since the pandemic hit the state in early spring. The state had tested 115,839 people since the starts, giving the state a 3.4 percent positive rate for all of the individuals who have been tested. For tests in the previous seven days, the state had a 1.5 percent positive rate for completed tests.
The governor said the state had dropped below one percent in positive tests earlier. “That would have been the best in the nation-type performance. We pulled it up a little bit because we have had a couple of days here where we have topped just over two percent on the positive rate.
“When you are this low, there is not much place to go, but we want to keep it low. In North Dakota, we are very fortunate to be in our position.
“We want to make sure that all of us together continue to remain vigilant and work together to avert this threat that we have to both our economy and to lives,” he said.
The governor praised North Dakotans “for doing an excellent, excellent job” in the fight against the Coronavirus.
He also said that if the state had been submitting its test statistics nationally, it would have been in the top spot of the nation in terms of tests per thousand, with the 27,000 tests per 100,000 statistics.
When it comes to the need for serial testing in the state, Gov. Burgum said that is important to do repeat tests on people who work in long term care at least weekly. “That is the way we protect those residents and keep those numbers down.
“In traditional health care, outside of long term care, where people are getting exposure, a number of those folks are being tested on a more regular basis.”
The governor also stressed that the state has had 3,447 recover from the Coronavirus, while 85 people have died and 26 were still hospitalized as of July 8. Four people from Cass County died in the previous week that had underlying health conditions, while one woman in her 80s died in Stutsman County that had no underlying health conditions, the governor said. “That is the second case recorded in North Dakota where someone has passed with COVID without other underlying health conditions.”