New COVID-19 cases plummet in North Dakota

Mike Stucka

North Dakota reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Sunday, adding 532 new cases. That's down 21.8% from the previous week's toll of 680 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

North Dakota ranked 47th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 471,554 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of 3.7% from the week before. Across the country, 29 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Across North Dakota, cases fell in 28 counties, with the best declines in Cass, Grand Forks and Ward counties.

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The share of North Dakota test results that came back positive was 3.3% in the latest week, compared with 4.5% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 16,155 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 15,169. Experts say it is important to look at the share of tests that come back positive, not just case counts, to get a better idea of whether the rate of new infections is changing or if differences in testing are playing a role.

The World Health Organization says places should be conducting enough tests to have fewer than 5% coming back positive. Places where the percentage is higher could struggle to complete contact tracing soon enough to prevent spread of the virus.

Within North Dakota, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Bowman, Divide and Hettinger counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Cass County, with 108 cases; Burleigh County, with 86 cases; and Ward County, with 51. Weekly case counts rose in 14 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Richland, Bowman and Mountrail counties.

In North Dakota, seven people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday. In the week before that, seven people were reported dead.

A total of 99,809 people in North Dakota have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 1,475 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 28,605,669 people have tested positive and 513,091 people have died.

Kim Mason, left, receives her second COVID-19 vaccine from medical assistant Teone Fjeld at the soon-to-open Coquille Indian Tribe medical clinic in Eugene, Oregon.