The number of confirmed, active cases of the novel coronavirus in North Dakota has surged, reaching the highest levels since the deadly virus was first identified in the Midwestern state.
As of Monday, North Dakota reported 8,440 active cases of COVID-19, the highest amount since the state began tracking cases in March. The high includes an estimated 975 newly confirmed active cases, raising the state’s daily positivity rate to 12.62%, per state health data.
Overall, the state has reported more than 46,000 cases of the deadly virus and some 540 deaths.
The news comes after North Dakota health officials in late October asked residents to conduct their own contact tracing if they have tested positive for COVID-19 as a surge in cases has left contact tracers in the state overwhelmed and strapped for resources.
In a news release, the North Dakota Department of Health announced it added some 400 contact tracers and case investigators over the summer to help “quickly trace and quarantine close contacts, allowing contact tracing to continue long after many other states had to suspend their efforts.”
But a “sharp increase” in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks “put increased pressure on contact tracing teams at the state and local level, leading to tracing delays and a backlog of positive cases that have yet to be assigned to a case investigator,” they said at the time.
Officials also noted that it will take longer for those who have been tested for the novel coronavirus to learn their results. Patients will be notified 72 hours from when the lab confirms their result compared to the past wait time of 24 hours.
“In addition, significant community spread of coronavirus and a lack of compliance with close contact investigations have diminished the effectiveness of contact tracing,” health officials said at the time.