North Dakota sees massive increase in COVID-19 variant cases

The state also has the 11th lowest vaccination rate in the United States
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 5:44 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - In the past week, the number of Delta variant cases in North Dakota jumped 1900%, and with a vaccination rate just under 40%, health officials are worried another surge in infections, hospitalizations, or deaths may hit the state very soon.

North Dakota Department of Health’s Immunization Program Manager Molly Howell said the Delta variant of COVID-19 is potentially 60-80% more infectious than the previous strains.

North Dakota has the 11th lowest vaccination rate in the United States, with only 39.7% of the population having the vaccine.

“I think with our low vaccination rate that’s exactly what we can expect in the next 1 month or 2.” said Sanford Health Dr. Avish Nagpal, adding he is worried it may be too late to prevent.

“Once the hospitalizations start climbing I’m concerned that’s when people will actually realize the gravity of the situation.” said Dr. Nagpal.

The vaccine rate for people 65 and older in North Dakota is 75%, and Essentia Health Dr. Richard Vetter said it won’t be the most at risk who will hospitalized going into the fall.

“Because the older folks are protected, the cases that you see and the deaths that you see are going to be younger healthier group just because they are not vaccinated...and that’s going to be heart wrenching.” said Dr. Vetter.

Howell said over 40% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are in people between the ages of 18 and 49.

The CDC reported the number of the people who died in June due to COVID-19, 99% of them were not vaccinated.

With the efficacy numbers the vaccines have proven, Dr. Vetter hopes these numbers will convince people to reconsider getting vaccinated.

“If you’re still hesitant about the vaccine...the time is running out.” said Dr. Nagpal.

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