The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) emphasizes the importance of prevention measures and vaccinations to reduce the risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The increase in the number of active cases since early March, the emergence of new variants, and the increase in the number of hospitalizations highlight the fact that this virus is still circulating in our state.
“On April 30, the emergency declaration for the state will be lifted; however, COVID-19 cases continue to be reported from our communities in North Dakota and people continue to be hospitalized for COVID-19,” said Kirby Kruger, disease control and forensic pathology section chief.
During this last week, 83 North Dakotans needed to be hospitalized for care, more than 40% were under the age of 60, and one was less than 10 years of age. The hospitalization rate among North Dakotans aged 16-49 has risen 59% in April 2021 compared to March 2021, the highest month-to-month increase in this age group in the COVID-19 pandemic thus far. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Department of Health recently announced that a child less than 10 years of age recently died from COVID-19 related complications. COVID-19 has proven to be serious and unpredictable.
“While the emergency declaration is ending on April 30, the virus is still present in our communities,” said Interim State Health Officer Dirk Wilke. “We encourage North Dakotans to keep using preventative measures including physical distancing, wearing a mask when you can’t distance, getting tested and most importantly getting vaccinated. If you have questions about vaccination, we encourage you to talk to your doctor.”
North Dakota citizens should continue to follow prevention measures to help keep case numbers low. These measures include:
- Getting vaccinated – this is the best way to protect yourself and those around you, and to prevent the emergence of new variations of the COVID-19 virus. Vaccination has been shown to be up to 94% effective at preventing hospitalization among those 65 years of age and older, and up to 90% effective in reducing asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 cases in healthcare workers.
- Seeking guidance from your health care provider early if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, especially if you have underlying health conditions that may increase your risk for severe disease or death.
- Wearing a face mask, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
- Practicing social distancing.
- Avoiding crowds.
- Practicing good hygiene.
- Staying home if you are feeling ill and getting tested if you have COVID-like symptoms.
- Isolating for 10 days if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Quarantining if you are exposed to an individual with COVID-19.
- Churches, schools, public spaces, gyms, and other venues where people gather should consult with their HVAC contractors to increase fresh air exchanges for their facilities.
Additional recommendations from the CDC for individuals, businesses, and events can be found online at Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC.
“Although this virus is changing and continues to circulate, we still have good prevention measures that can be utilized to help reduce the spread of this virus,” said Kruger.
NDDoH will continue to conduct case investigation and contact tracing; teams that provide guidance and assistance to health care providers, businesses, schools, child care centers and travelers will continue to offer those services.
“The good news is that the majority of North Dakotans over age 18 have received at least one dose of vaccine and case numbers seem to be leveling off again,” said Kruger. “Working together, we can continue to reduce the risk of illness, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 in our state.”
Information, including the ND case dashboard, vaccine finder, and COVID-19 FAQs, can be found online at health.nd.gov/coronavirus. Hotlines are also available for health care providers; food, lodging, and personal care services; workplace cleaning and safety; working conditions; and general questions. Hotline information is available online.