BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Wednesday, Jan. 20, reported one new COVID-19 death and a drop in active cases as the state's outbreak has continued to subside.

North Dakota's ative virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped off precipitously since a November peak that marked the worst outbreak in the country. Now, the Upper Midwest appears to be in substantially better shape even as a severe national outbreak persists in warmer regions like the South and Southwest.

The department on Wednesday reported the death of a Ramsey County man in his 40s, substantially younger than the average age of people who have died with the virus in North Dakota. Earlier in the week, the United States surpassed 400,000 total virus deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The state health department reported a decrease of 83 active cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 1,177 — the lowest count since late August, when the state's virus surge was just beginning. Fifty-five people are currently hospitalized with the virus in North Dakota, down 33 from the day before.

The department reported 158 new cases on Wednesday, including:

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  • 21 from Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck.
  • 16 from Cass County, which includes Fargo.
  • 18 from Ward County, which includes Minot.
  • 16 from Williams County, which includes Williston.

North Dakota is among the national leaders in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. The state has administered more first vaccine doses per capita than almost any other state in the country, second only to West Virginia, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine tracker. The Department of Health reports that North Dakota has administered a total of 63,244 doses out of almost 93,500 received.

About 3% of the residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, and an average of 3.6% of those tested in the last two weeks have tested positive. Seventy-three of Wednesday's positives came off rapid tests, while the rest came off traditional tests.

The department says 1,387 North Dakotans have died from the illness since March. At least 830 of the state's deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. There are 35 infected nursing home residents in the state.

The state has averaged just over two deaths a day this month, a huge drop from December.

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Readers can reach reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at