If you want one idea of the impact of COVID-19 on North Dakota, consider this: September has been the deadliest month for coronavirus deaths in the state since March, when COVID-19 data was first tracked.
Based on daily COVID-19 reports presented by the North Dakota Department of Health, the coronavirus killed or has contributed to the deaths of 109 people during September.
That is more than the number of deaths reported during March, April, June, July and August combined, which total 104.
The previous deadliest month in North Dakota for COVID-19 was May, when 43 deaths were reported.
So far in 2020, COVID-19 has killed or contributed to the deaths of 256 North Dakotans.
This probably isn’t a revelation — the deaths per month tend to parallel the rise per month in COVID-19 positives and other virus trends in the state. The active positives in the state for September dwarf those reported in previous months going back to March.
This simply puts a different perspective on the human toll of COVID-19.
According to data presented at the state health department’s “COVID-19 Status Report” web page, the vast majority of deaths are in just three counties: Cass (77), Burleigh (50) and Morton (33).
These three counties account for 63 percent of the total statewide COVID-19 deaths.
According to U.S. Census data, Cass and Burleigh counties represent the top two population centers in the state while Morton County ranks as the seventh most populous.
Those who are dying from COVID-19 in the state are overwhelmingly 80 years of age and older — 63 percent of the deaths are in that category, according to the state health department.
The next highest group is 70 to 79, and those in that age range account for 18 percent of the state deaths from COVID-19.
Those in the 60 to 69 age group represent 11 percent of the deaths.
Below 60, the mortality numbers drops significantly. Only 1 person in the 20 to 29 age group has died from COVID-19 in North Dakota.
Again, the numbers probably are not surprising — the older you are, the more likely you are to be susceptible to viruses, diseases and other ailments that can kill you.
The question with COVID-19 among our elderly population is this: Are the high number of deaths preventable or inevitable?
Nursing homes here and across the nation are hot spots of COVID-19 activity, according to the available statistics. Does masking, social distancing, constant sanitizing and other actions make any difference in these places? Despite the proactive measures, reports of virus spikes in nursing homes — in addition to general population jumps — keep appearing.
Outside of a vaccine for the virus, the answers don’t seem easy. There’s still so much to learn about COVID-19.
And now, with the start of October, many will be wondering if the new month will be as bad as September, or was last month the peak for COVID-19 deaths.