By Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota health officials on Saturday reported 22 additional deaths due to complications from COVID-19 and 385 new positive cases.

The deaths confirmed Saturday bring the statewide death toll from the virus to 1,152 since the pandemic began.

The state’s death count is the 41st highest in the country and the fifth highest per capita at 149 deaths per 100,000 people, according to figures compiled by The COVID Tracking Project.

The state said there were 292 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Saturday, an increase of five. The most recent data shows only 25 staffed intensive care unit beds and 271 staffed inpatient beds available statewide.

There have been 87,590 positive tests since the start of the pandemic, including the 385 reported on Saturday.

There were 1,313 new cases per 100,000 people in North Dakota over the past two weeks, which ranks third in the country for new cases per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. One in every 144 people in North Dakota tested positive in the past week.

The nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine will begin arriving in states Monday morning, U.S. officials said Saturday, after the government gave the final go-ahead to the shots needed to end the outbreak among Americans.

Health care workers and nursing home residents are first in line to receive the coronavirus vaccination when it becomes available in North Dakota.

Sanford Health in Fargo expects to receive a vaccine shipment on Sunday, spokeswoman Angela Dejene said. Ten doctors and nurses are scheduled to get the vaccines Sunday night, with other front-line staff scheduled for the vaccine on Monday.

State health officials have said they do not know yet the vaccination timeline for other critical workers, such as law enforcement, emergency workers and teachers.

Officials say vaccinations for the general public could be available in the spring.

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