BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota health officials on Monday confirmed 255 new COVID-19 cases in 24 counties and two additional deaths since the pandemic began.

Officials said the fatalities included a woman in her 90s from Burleigh County with underlying health conditions and an Eddy County woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions. That raised the state’s total deaths to 170.

Active cases statewide rose by four to a record 2,758 and hospitalizations went up by three, to 65.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said Monday it has been a “largely successful start to the school year” with many districts moving toward five days of in-person learning.

“We have also been focused on protecting the most vulnerable among us, which are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.. We have been a national leader in that regard,” Burgum said, noting the low number of hospitalizations.

The number of North Dakotans tested for coronavirus at least once is at 220,230 and total tests stood at 546,127, including 4,266 tests completed Sunday.

The state’s hot spot, Burleigh and Morton counties, on Monday morning remained in the yellow “moderate” risk level, which is in the middle of the state’s five-level color-coded system. Six other North Dakota counties were at yellow, 13 were in the blue “new normal” level, and 32 were in the green or “low” risk level. The state reviews the county risk levels on a weekly basis, Burgum said.

The governor said “one area for concern” has been an increase of positive tests among people in health care facilities, both among staff and residents. The positivity rate over the weekend was 4.7% for residents and 5,9% for staff. “That just too high,” he said.

“We also know there is COVID fatigue out there,” Burgum said. “We ask everyone to keep fighting the fight because what you do makes a difference for those who are most vulnerable and also help keep our schools open.”

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