Covid-19 cases are rising in North Dakota, and the health care system in the state may not be well-equipped to handle this surge, a public health official warns.
“Right now, the hospitals have less than 20 beds available across the state,” said Renae Moch, director of Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health, adding that it’s concerning because some hospitals are struggling to meet the demand for care.
Moch later clarified to CNN that there are fewer than 20 staffed ICU beds available in the state. According to state data, 20 staffed ICU beds were available as of 1 p.m. local time Sunday
“We have some hospitals in very rural areas that are having difficulty meeting the demand, and having to send patients to different areas across the state of North Dakota, and even had to send out of state at some point to Sioux Falls [South Dakota] and also Billings, Montana.”
Moch says it’s been a challenge to “make a difference in the number of cases” without a state mandate to enforce coronavirus safety measures.
“We have been given the message from the state level that personal responsibility is the way to go when it comes to wearing masks and social distancing," she told CNN. "People are continuing to operate kind of as they had before Covid even was here. And that's leading to a lot of our numbers increasing.”
Public health officials are also having trouble contact tracing in this environment due to a lack of cooperation from the public, Moch says.
“So we're dealing with people maybe saying they don't have any close contacts. If they have been to a wedding or large gathering they're not giving us that information. So that gives us a real hard time to try to do the contact tracing work and contain some of the spread there.”
CORRECTION: This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Moch's last name.