North Dakota is pushing residents to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, and health care workers are heeding the call as more than 3,000 people have received the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, Dec. 17.
The state began administering the vaccines on Monday, Dec. 14, and in just four days 3,068 vaccinations have been administered statewide, according to the North Dakota Department of Health.
North Dakota has already received 6,825 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, and the state has put in an order for 13,200 Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which was just approved by the Federal Drug Administration for emergency use Friday evening.
Mollie Howell, the state’s immunization manager, said at a Wednesday, Dec. 16, news conference that the general public likely will not have access to the vaccine until the spring, as it is prioritizing front-line health care workers and long-term care facility residents.
Howell said the state hopes to receive 40,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the year, and it aims to begin inoculating long-term care facility residents beginning Dec. 27.
Howell and Gov. Doug Burgum are encouraging North Dakotans to get the vaccine as soon as they are eligible.
On Friday, Dec. 18, the state’s Department of Health announced an additional 21 COVID-19 deaths and a slight decrease in hospitalizations.
Friday’s deaths bring the state’s overall COVID-19 death toll to 1,225 North Dakotans.
North Dakota’s active case count and number of hospitalizations have steadily decreased in the last month, and though the number of COVID-19 deaths has remained high, Burgum said the continuing high death rate was because of a reporting backlog. The state reported 144 COVID-19 hospitalizations Friday, which is an almost 60% decrease from where hospitalizations were one month ago.
November was the state’s deadliest month by far with 486 deaths occurring in the month alone. December has already seen at least 171 COVID-19 deaths, according to the Department of Health.
The deaths announced Friday encompassed residents from 12 counties, all in their 60s to 90s.
North Dakota will host two free rapid antigen tests in Fargo and Bismarck on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 19 and 20. For safety, only people who are asymptomatic should get the antigen test, the state says, and people who attend will be able to receive their test result within 15 minutes via text message.
Those who do test positive are asked to isolate at home immediately and those who test negative are asked to continue monitoring for symptoms. For more information about each event, visit the North Dakota Department of Health’s website.
There were 3,061 North Dakotans known to be infected with the virus as of Friday, and the number of active COVID-19 cases in the state has been steadily declining in the last month. However, North Dakota still ranks among the highest in the nation for the number of COVID-19 deaths per capita in the last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC is still recommending Americans stay home and limit travel during the winter holiday season to keep family and community members safe.
On Friday, 509 new positive cases were reported, including:
- 132 from Cass County, which encompasses Fargo and West Fargo.
- 49 from Burleigh County, which encompasses Bismarck.
- 34 from Stark County, which encompasses Dickinson.
About 6% of the 7,543 residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, and an average of about 6.5% of those tested in the last two weeks got a positive result. Like active cases, the state’s positivity rate has decreased substantially in the last month.