North Dakota’s coronavirus mortality rate is the highest of any U.S. state or country, according to an analysis of data from last week conducted by the Federation of American Scientists.
The analysis, first reported by HuffPost, shows that North Dakota has a rate of 18.2 deaths per 1 million people. South Dakota, meanwhile, has 17.4 deaths per million, the third-worst rate in the world. The states have a total population of under 2 million.
The two states have taken disparate approaches to the rising number of cases. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) imposed a new series of restrictions on businesses last week and imposed a new mandate in certain settings. “Our situation has changed, and we must change with it,” he said.
“We believe in North Dakotans. We believe in the power of individual responsibility. And we need individual responsibility now more than ever to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Burgum added.
However, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), a close ally of President Trump’s, has vocally opposed mask mandates and questioned the efficacy of masks as a safeguard against the spread of the virus.
Modeling by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projected that continuing under current conditions would lead to deaths in both states more than doubling by March 1. This would mean topping more than 3,000 fatalities.
On Monday, North Dakota’s Department of Health reported 1,089 new positive cases of the virus and a rolling 14-day positivity rate of 15.9 percent. South Dakota reported 821 new confirmed cases and 18,139 active cases overall.