7 more people die of COVID-19 complications, all elderly

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Department of Health said Wednesday it’s adjusting coronavirus testing and contract tracing to address a recent uptick in cases among residents and staff at long-term care facilities.

Health officials are prioritizing the testing of that population over all other testing with every effort to return the results of those tests within 24 hours to fast track potential isolation of positive residents and staff and quarantine close contacts.

The Department of Health said it plans to use emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, and others to administer the tests and will make about 200 nurses from its operations center available to staff long-term care facilities as needed.

“Protecting the most vulnerable is our top priority in North Dakota’s COVID-19 response, and since the beginning the state has taken proactive measures to safeguard residents and staff in long-term care facilities and other congregate settings,” State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani said. “With these adjustments, we are placing even more emphasis on doing everything we can to protect residents and staff while still allowing for safe, responsible visitation that is so important to residents’ mental health and well-being.”

State health officials said Wednesday seven more people have died of coronavirus complications, and all were in their 80s or 90s with underlying health conditions. The total number of deaths since the pandemic began is 203 in North Dakota.

Another 475 people tested positive for the coronavirus since Tuesday with 3,302 active cases in the state. The total number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 is 89.

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