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Testing increases in North Dakota as Delta Variant is dominant strain


North Dakota is seeing a spike in COVID cases, specifically the Delta variant.

For the first time in a long time the North Dakota Department of Health reported 6,000 tests in one day, which includes both PCR and rapid antigen tests.

“I was interested in where are we now [compared to] where we were about last year. When I looked on Monday at the number of cases, were about the same. But our testing was only a fraction. Our testing today or this year is only a fraction of what it was last year. So we’re seeing many more positives coming out of fewer tests this year,” Kirby Kruger, the Section Chief of Disease Control for NDDOH, explained.

He says since the beginning of August more people have become symptomatic and there has been more than a 300% increase in cases across the state.

“I think what we’re seeing here is really a manifestation of the Delta variant being that much more infectious,” he added.

After receiving a positive test the state lab evaluates it to see if it’s eligible to go through additional testing in order to determine which strain of COVID it is.

“For those that are successfully sequenced it will go through the process of being assigned a lineage and for that and some of that fails, too,” Kruger said. “And for everyone that’s successfully a lineage, it will get reported back out.”

Kruger said testing samples for variants allows the department to have a better understanding of what’s going on.

This week’s samples show that all the tests taken were that of the Delta variant.

Testing for variants can only be done with PCR tests – not rapid antigen tests – because there simply aren’t enough samples collected.

The last set of tests reported in the state show 153 new variants of concern.

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