The increase in the level of risk for several of the most populated and virus-affected districts of the country is accompanied by a change in the guidelines for “high-risk” districts.
Bars, restaurants and large restaurants in Kas County and the 15 others that will switch to orange on Friday are recommended to serve only a quarter of their normal capacity and no more than 50 people in total. Burgum confirmed that the new guidelines are not required by law, but represent “the strongest possible recommendation”.
Before Wednesday, the high-risk level came with the mandatory closure of nail salons, barbershops and gyms, as well as restrictions on indoor meals in restaurants and bars. Burgum said new knowledge about the spread of the virus showed that much more transmission came from weddings and church services than personal care, so restricting hair and nail salons would not be a very effective policy.
No district has been ranked in the category of highest “critical risk”
Burgum’s five-color gauge has been criticized by citizens’ architects and its political opponents, who say the designations are arbitrary and do not report the actual risk of COVID-19 in the affected communities. Last week, the Republican governor refused to move counties to the orange or red level, although 14 counties met two of the main criteria for high or critical risk.
Gov. Doug Burgum moved 16 counties in North Dakota to a “high risk” level for COVID-19 on Wednesday, October 14th. Screenshot through the North Dakota Department of Health
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney told the forum’s news service that the city would “push hard” on businesses to implement mask policies and adhere to new recommendations on capacity constraints. Mahoney said the mandatory closure of businesses coming from the state and the city could be a real possibility if the speed of COVID-19’s spread in the community does not slow down.
“If people don’t start respecting the disease, we’re going back to economic halting,” Mahoney said.
Burgum set a firmer tone than usual on Wednesday as he begged residents to wear masks and refrain from gathering large groups. He has drawn a well-known line that North Dakota can overcome the virus, with each resident being responsible for safeguards instead of issuing large-scale mandates to the government.
He noted that COVID-19 could prove to be a serious disease for young people, and called on all residents to return to the sense of unity that the state had eight months ago, when not much was known about the virus.
“Last spring we had a huge community and we need to revive the ‘hearts in the window’ spirit we had then,” Burgum said. “It’s not something we have to do forever. We have to do it long enough to slow down the spread. We have to do it long enough to get to 2021 so that other tools are at our disposal, including vaccines that can help protect the most vulnerable. “
Burgum complained that proven public health measures, such as wearing masks, were politicized. However, he expressed hope that North Dakota could reverse its devastating outbreak if residents made “small investments in behavior change.”
Earlier in the day, the State Department of Health reported eight deaths from COVID-19 and a record number of active cases and new infections.
Health officials confirmed the deaths of three men from LaMore County, a woman from Bowman County, a man from Burley County, a man from McLean County, a man from Mackintosh County and a man from Mercer County. All victims were at least 50 years old and had underlying conditions.
The department says 365 North Dakota residents have succumbed to the disease since March, and deaths have risen rapidly in the past two months. The 98 deaths recorded in October so far determine the pace of the deadliest month of the pandemic. 120 deaths were reported in September.
At least 212 of the state’s deaths have occurred in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, many of which have been destroyed by the virus in the past two months. Nine establishments have double-digit numbers of infected residents, including Minot’s Somerset Courts, which has 57 residents who tested positive, according to the department.
There are currently 4,759 North Dakota known to be infected with the virus. This is the seventh consecutive day in which the state has set a new pandemic record.
North Dakota reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita in the country in the past week, according to The New York Times. The entire region is experiencing a jump in cases, with South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Montana and Minnesota identified by the publication as states where infections are “high and remain high.”
The number of hospitalized residents due to the disease dropped to 132 on Wednesday. Another 74 patients were initially hospitalized with some other disease, but later tested positive for COVID-19. Thirty-nine northern Dakotans with the virus are in intensive care.
North Dakotans who have been transferred outside the state for medical care are not being monitored by the health department, said spokeswoman Nicole Peske.
The state is struggling with a shortage of available hospital beds as hospitalizations at COVID-19 converge with strains on health care staff and high necoronavirus intake. There are 32 intensive care beds and 241 regular inpatient beds across the country.
The situation is particularly urgent in Bismarck, where the two hospitals have one intensive care bed and two inpatient beds. Fargo’s three hospitals have 20 open intensive care beds and 24 inpatient beds, while Grand Forks’ Altru Hospital has four intensive care beds and 22 hospital beds.
The health department announced a record 713 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
More than 40 counties reported at least one case Wednesday, including many small rural counties.
Cass County, which includes Fargo, announced an incredible 216 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The state’s most populous county has seen a surge in new infections in the past two weeks and now has the most active cases in the state at 1,099. That’s more than all of North Dakota had in mid-August.
Burley County, which covers Bismarck, announced 151 new cases on Wednesday. The county has the second most active cases in the state with 805. County Morton, which is located west of Burleigh County and includes Mandan, reported 44 new cases and 270 active cases.
The two largest metro areas in the state account for about 46% of active cases in the state.
Fifty-five new cases came from Ward County, which includes Minot. The county currently has the third most active cases in the state of 324.
Grand Forks County reported 30 new cases, increasing its number of active cases to 316.
About 9.5% of the 7,475 residents tested as part of the last batch tested positive, but 20.1% of the residents tested for the first time tested positive.
North Dakota did not report a seven-day moving average for positivity, but the Forum News Service estimates the rate at 8.4% for all residents tested and 15.2% for tests performed on previously untested residents. Both percentages are the highest since the forum’s news service began tracking the figures in early August.
The World Health Organization recommends keeping the level of positivity below 5% before allowing businesses to reopen.
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