People who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus are 29 times more likely to be infected than people who are vaccinated — that’s according to Dr. Casmiar Nwaigwe, the Infectious Disease Specialist at Trinity Health.

Doctors and health officials in Minot held a news conference Tuesday, during which they compared their coronavirus data from last year to this year.

Testing for COVID has been increasing, but it’s nowhere near the number of tests done in 2020.

The amount of daily COVID cases within the nine counties First District covers vary, but most have more cases than they did at this time last year.

Dr. Nwaigwe says he’s treated people with COVID almost daily over the last year and a half.

“It pains me as a human being and as a doctor to see people come into the hospital struggling to breathe,” said Nwaigwe. “Going through this last year and I’ll say it again, it’s a preventable catastrophe. We know enough about the virus to prevent the illness.”

The main message of the meeting: the importance of getting vaccinated.

Doctors say no vaccine is 100 percent effective, but it certainly helps.

“We have more data on the safety than what we do than what’s going to happen with the COVID virus six months from now, years down the road,” said Lacey McNichols, RN and Immunization Specialist at First District Health Unit. “With the pandemic that’s happening, they’re saying you’re either gonna get the vaccine or you’re gonna get the virus. The safest thing to do is get the vaccine.”

COVID testing is available at First District Health Unit by appointment.

You can make an appointment by calling 701-852-1376.

You must also preregister with the State to receive your results.