Special Report

These Are the Counties In the Bismarck, ND Metro Area Where COVID-19 Is Growing the Fastest

After adding over 720,000 new cases throughout the last week, the U.S. now has more than 43.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 690,000 COVID-19-related deaths — the highest death toll of any country.

New cases continue to rise at a steady rate. In the past week, there were an average of 34.0 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — essentially unchanged from the week prior, when there were an average of 38.7 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

While COVID-19 has spread to nearly every part of the country, cities continue to be the sites of major outbreaks. Experts agree that the virus is more likely to spread in group settings where large numbers of people routinely have close contact with one another, such as colleges, nursing homes, bars, and restaurants. Metropolitan areas with a high degree of connectivity between neighborhoods and a large population may be particularly at-risk.

The Bismarck, ND, metro area consists of Burleigh County, Morton County, and Oliver County. In the past week, there were an average of 130.4 new coronavirus cases every day per 100,000 Bismarck residents, greater than the national figure. The metro area’s average daily case growth in the most recent week is an increase from the week prior, when there was an average of 106.6 daily new cases per 100,000 Bismarck residents.

The spread of coronavirus depends on a variety of factors and can vary even between neighboring counties. Within the Bismarck metro area, COVID-19 is growing the fastest in Morton County. There were an average of 138.8 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in Morton County during the past week, the most of the three counties in Bismarck with available data.

Case growth in the Bismarck metro area varies at the county level. In Oliver County, for example, there were an average of 85.3 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in the past week — the least of any county in Bismarck and more than the case growth rate in Morton County.

Just as Morton County is driving the growth of COVID-19 in the Bismarck area, it also has the highest incidence of cases overall. As of October 6, there were a total of 21,741.0 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in Morton County, the most of the three counties in the metro area. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 13,418.3 cases per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, city and county governments have ordered the closure of thousands of consumer-facing businesses. These measures have led to widespread job loss and record unemployment. In Morton County, unemployment peaked at 10.4% in April 2020. As of June 2021, the county’s unemployment rate was 4.3%.

To determine the county in every metropolitan area where COVID-19 is growing the fastest, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed data from state and local health departments. We ranked counties according to the average number of new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the seven days ending October 6. To estimate the incidence of COVID-19 at the metropolitan level, we aggregated data up from the county level using boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population data used to adjust case and death totals came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates. Unemployment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is not seasonally adjusted.

These are all the counties in North Dakota where COVID-19 is slowing (and where it’s still getting worse).

Rank in MSA County Population New daily cases per 100,000, week ending October 6 New daily cases per 100,000, week ending September 29 Cumulative cases per 100,000 Cumulative deaths per 100,000
1 Morton County 30,868 138.8 100.6 21,741.0 336.9
2 Burleigh County 94,793 128.5 110.1 21,560.7 228.9
3 Oliver County 1,842 85.3 27.7 9,934.9 162.9