Coronavirus March 31: Developments across our region

A third North Dakota resident has succumbed to COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.

The North Dakota Department of Health announced Monday, March 30, a Morton County man in his 70s with underlying health issues has died from the illness. Earlier in the day, the department announced a McHenry County woman in her 80s with underlying health issues has died from the illness. Both residents contracted the virus via community spread, meaning it was not contracted through travel or exposure to a known case and implies that someone else in a community has the illness but has not yet been tested.

McHenry County is located in the north-central part of the state east of Minot and has a population of about 5,900. Morton County is situated in the south-central part of the state, and has a population of about 31,000, most of whom live in or around Mandan.

The two deaths come three days after a Cass County man in his 90s became the first North Dakotan to die from the illness.

The department confirmed 11 new positive tests for coronavirus Monday, bringing the state's total to 109 cases. However, the department lists 20 people as having recovered from the illness. Nineteen patients are now hospitalized with the illness.


The new cases include Grand Forks County's first two known cases: a man and a woman, both in their 30s. The department also announced four new cases in Cass County, which now has 24 total. Other new cases came from Burleigh, Mountrail and Ward counties.

A total of 3,909 tests for the virus have been reported to the state, and 19 counties have at least one known case of the illness.


The number of Minnesotans hospitalized for COVID-19 in an ICU setting jumped 50% on Monday, March 30, from 16 to 24.

The number of patients hospitalized for the illness jumped nearly 50% on one day as well, from 39 to 56.

Vast expanses of the state have no ICU beds, however, a resource-distribution challenge now being addressed by an emergency private-public health care initiative busily creating a unified database of resources for the expected peak in cases.

At eight new cases, Monday's rise in ICU patients remains low in absolute numbers. But the 50% relative rate jump is the highest yet, and unsustainable in the long term. Above and beyond those used for other health conditions, Minnesota has just 243 available ICU beds, according to state health officials.

The climb in ICU cases came on top of another record one-day jump in new cases, as the state added 73 more confirmed cases and one death, bringing the state total to 576 confirmed cases and 10 deaths. No information was immediately available on the location or age of the 10th person to have died from the virus, but officials in Martin County have reported a second death there, a man in his 80s who lived in a specialty nursing congregate living facility.

In a separate worrying trend, at an afternoon press conference with Gov. Tim Walz, state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said there are 31 congregate living elderly care facilities with at least one case of coronavirus, albeit the vast majority of which are facilities with just one case.


South Dakota

Known cases of the coronavirus topped 100 on Monday, March 30, officials said. Health officials held the first of what they said would be daily briefings to take media questions on testing results. The briefings appear to be taking the place of the almost-daily weekday press conferences previously led by Gov. Kristi Noem.

New testing has found another 11 cases, for a state total of 101. None of the new cases are hospitalized but are isolated at home, said Josh Clayton, state epidemiologist.

Newly discovered cases showed the virus is moving undetected — known as community spread — in 13 of the states' 66 counties, adding three since Sunday, according to the state's coronavirus information page.

Thirty-four of those diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, have recovered. State and private labs, including two in-house health system labs in the state, have processed a total of 3,579 tests.

Around the region

  • The Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge facility in Brainerd, Minn., reported it received notice Saturday, March 28, that one client in its short-term program had a confirmed case of COVID-19. The impacted client was sent to Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd that day for assessment, according to a news release from the organization. He has since been released to a family member and is being isolated at his home.
  • The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is reminding residents to watch what they flush. With people stocking up on supplies like toilet paper amid the coronavirus pandemic, alternatives like paper towels, facial tissues, baby wipes, disposable wipes and other products are certainly going to be considered. The MPCA is urging everyone to stick to flushing toilet paper and toilet paper only. "These products — even those labeled 'flushable' — do not break down like toilet paper and can clog pipes, leading to sewer backups and costly repairs," the MPCA said.
  • About 239,263 workers in Minnesota have applied for unemployment since March 16, more than applied during the entirety of 2019, according to Steve Grove, Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner.
  • Fears of the coronavirus spreading “unchecked” at Doosan Bobcat of Gwinner, N.D., has prompted workers and unions to begin negotiations with corporate management to set up safeguards inside the manufacturing plant.

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