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ND virus cases set high, positivity rate nears 20%

BISMARCK (AP) — North Dakota’s daily positivity rate for COVID-19 neared 20% Tuesday as health officials reported a record of more than 1,000 cases in the last day.

The update of 1,036 new cases lifted the total number of the coronavirus cases statewide to 33,666 since the pandemic began.

The COVID Tracking Project reported that North Dakota has had more than 1,150 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, which leads the nation. The rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 70% in the lasts two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.

The surge in cases prompted city leaders in Fargo and Minot on Monday to require face coverings in most settings. Gov. Doug Burgum has resisted issuing an order to require a statewide mask mandate even as the number of cases soar.

Health officials confirmed four new deaths on Tuesday, bringing the statewide death toll from the virus to 412.

The new deaths reported Tuesday include two women and two men, all in their 60s or older. Hospitalizations stood at 145, which was down eight from the last update.

There were 245 available staffed inpatient beds plus 20 intensive care unit beds in North Dakota, according to state data.