The health department says one person had recently returned from domestic travel before becoming ill and the second person determined to have the variant was a close contact of the first individual.
An additional case is suspected to be the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant and is under investigation, the Department of Health said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the United Kingdom variant is more infectious than other strains of the virus, and that other strains of COVID-19 have originated in Brazil and South Africa. Early studies show the COVID-19 vaccines being administered nationwide are effective against the new variants, the CDC says.
“This variant strain is thought to be more contagious which reinforces the importance of continuing to wear a mask, physical distancing, staying home when you’re sick, getting tested, and quarantining when you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive,” said Kirby Kruger, the Department of Health’s disease control director, on Wednesday. “Getting the vaccine when it’s your turn is another great way to prevent the spread of the variant strain.”
As of Tuesday, Feb. 16, there were 1,299 confirmed cases caused by COVID-19 variants in the U.S., with at least 42 states reporting confirmed cases of the United Kingdom strain, according to the CDC.
The CDC recommends wearing a mask that fits snugly against one’s face and wearing a mask with multiple layers. Adding layers, such as combining a cloth mask and a disposable mask, is useful in preventing respiratory droplets from escaping.
The North Dakota Department of Health on Wednesday, Feb. 17, reported a relatively small increase in active COVID-19 cases.
No new deaths were reported on Wednesday, but at least 1,431 North Dakotans have died either due to or with COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, according to the health department. More than 61% of the deaths have occurred in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased slightly on Wednesday to 43 residents, which is down significantly from the more than 350 North Dakotans who were hospitalized at one point in November.
North Dakota has been a leader in the U.S. for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to residents, according to the CDC. The state says it had administered more than 166,000 doses of vaccine as of Wednesday and more than 50,000 have received both doses.
Active COVID-19 cases in North Dakota increased slightly from Tuesday to 797 residents known to be infected with the virus. This is the lowest number of active cases the state has reported since July.
The department reported 123 new cases on Wednesday, including:
About 2.2% of the 5,457 residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, and the average positivity rate of those tested in the last two weeks is about 2.5%.
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Readers can reach reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at [email protected]