Coronavirus surge is filling North Dakota’s hospitals

October 30, 2020 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The rampant spread of the coronavirus in North Dakota is putting its hospitals to the test, as the steady influx of people requiring in-patient stays has left only about 200 regular beds and 20 in intensive care units vacant, health officials indicated Friday.

After escaping the surge in cases that many other states were dealing with early on during the pandemic, North Dakota has the nation’s highest number of new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The state reached a grim new milestone on Friday, as its COVID-19 death toll eclipsed the 500 mark, rising by 13 to 512, according to state health data. Nearly half of those deaths, 241, have occurred this month.


Hospitalizations from the disease caused by the coronavirus also reached a new high for the state, 191, with a net increase of seven since Thursday.

The surge is stressing the state’s health system, and Sanford Health Bismarck President Michael LeBeau expressed worry on Friday about where things are headed.

“I do have a concern that the rate of growth is not sustainable,” LeBeau said.

He said medical facilities throughout the state are meeting regularly and working together to provide the best care they can to COVID-19 patients, but he hopes the public will do better at wearing face masks and social distancing to help slow the progression of the disease.

There were only 216 available inpatient beds and 20 intensive care unit beds in North Dakota hospitals on Friday, according to state data. In Fargo, there were three ICU beds and six regular beds at Essentia Health. There were three ICU beds and no ICU beds at Sanford Health.

In Bismarck, CHI St. Alexius Medical Center had 13 inpatient beds and one ICU bed. At nearby Sanford Health, there was only one ICU bed and no inpatient beds.

The state health department reported 1,357 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, which was also a record high for North Dakota, eclipsing the record set one day earlier by 135 cases.

Health officials reported a daily positivity rate of 12.1%. And the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by more than 42% in the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.