The North Dakota Department of Health on Saturday, May 9, announced two more Cass County residents have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus. Thirty-five North Dakotans have now died from the illness that has claimed more than 78,000 lives nationwide.

One of the deceased residents announced Saturday was a man in his 40s, while the other man was in his 90s. The department said both men had underlying health conditions. Twenty-six residents of the state's most populous county have now succumbed to the illness.

The department on Saturday also announced 40 new cases of COVID-19 on 1,432 tests, marking a fourth day in the last week the state has failed to meet a goal of testing 1,800 per day. Thirty of the new cases came from Cass County, which now has 781 known cases — more than half of the state's total. The department reports that 398 Cass County residents who previously tested positive have recovered.

Cass County accounts for 55% of active COVID-19 cases but only about 21% of the total tests done in the state.

Two of the new cases came from Grand Forks County, which has the second most cases in the state at 284. The department lists 122 residents of the county as having recovered from the illness.

The other eight new cases Saturday came from McHenry, Ransom, Rolette, Ramsey, Stark, Stutsman and Ward counties.

South Dakota

The coronavirus has killed three more South Dakotans, raising the statewide death toll to 34 as the state logged its biggest number of daily processed tests, according to the Department of Health on Saturday.

There are now 3,393 known cases of COVID-19 in the state, with about 3,000 in the Sioux Falls area alone. Test results have surged in the past two days, the result of drive-thru testing this week for any employees of the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant and family members.

The plant started reopening this week after being closed since April 15. Health officials have linked 1,098 COVID-19 diagnoses to an outbreak that spread among the plant's workers, although State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said Friday that 1,034 of those related to the Smithfield outbreak have recovered.

But that number of cases linked to Smithfield is likely to rise due to the 3,628 tested at the mass testing event, although the state has yet to split out the results.

State officials have logged results of 2,838 tests in the last two days, the largest two-day testing total and a significant jump over the usual daily processing amount. Over the previous 10 days, the state logged an average of 374 test results per day.

Minnesota

Another 24 Minnesotans have died of the coronavirus, the Minnesota Department of Health reported on Saturday.

The new fatalities were scattered throughout the state, with one each in Stearns, Ramsey, Polk, Clay and Carver counties, two each in Washington and Anoka counties, three in Dakota County and 12 in Hennepin County. In all, 558 people have died from the virus.

According to health officials, 16 of the fatalities occurred among residents of long-term care.

In spite of their hosting no food plants, a daily reporting of 40-50 new cases has become the norm in the state's largest counties since the expansion of testing to all persons with symptoms was announced two weeks ago.

Nobles County in the far southwestern corner of the state, home to a JBS pork plant in Worthington, added 53 cases on Saturday, bringing its total to 1,230 cases. Stearns County also continues to show rapid spread of the illness, adding 74 cases, and bringing its total to 1,348. That number surpasses the totals in far larger counties like Anoka and Dakota, and is second in the state only to Hennepin County.

Wisconsin

There are 9,939 positive cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin as of Saturday, according to the state Department of Health Services. That's an increase of 349 cases from Friday, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

A total of 398 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19 as of Saturday, according to WPR.

According to DHS, 1,806 people have been hospitalized because of the virus.

Around the region

  • In Minnesota, only three of the state's 87 counties, all of them in the far northern portions of the state, currently have no reported cases. Two of them on the Canadian border -- Lake of the Woods and Cook County -- are sparsely populated. With nearly 20,000 residents, however, the lack of confirmed cases in Hubbard County is unusual.
  • NBA star Kyrie Irving has extended a helping hand to a community dear to his heart. The Brooklyn Nets point guard and some of his business associates on Thursday, May 7, donated two truckloads of food and 3,000 N95 masks to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, according to a Facebook post from the tribe.
  • Two Native American tribes in South Dakota have rejected Gov. Kristi Noem's demand they remove pandemic-related checkpoints on reservation roads within 48 hours or face legal action. Leaders from the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe issued statements denouncing Noem's ultimatum on Friday, May 8, for them to remove their checkpoints on U.S. and state highways, calling it an insult and out of line with treaty law. They said the checkpoints were necessary to protect the health and welfare of their tribes, particularly their most vulnerable members. The tribes needed to step up their COVID-19 preventive actions because of Noem's inaction, they said.

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