North Dakota’s largest stadium preparing for virus patients

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Plans are in place to convert North Dakota’s largest sports venue into a field hospital in case it’s needed for COVID-19 patients, Fargo officials said Thursday.

The Fargodome is an indoor stadium that seats 19,000 fans for North Dakota State University football games and has held major concerts and other events. The National Guard and state officials are prepared to set up about 200 beds and health stations in the venue, if needed, Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said.

“The governor has control of beds that he can deliver wherever he wants in the state,” Mahoney said.

The National Guard has already set up more than 200 cots at the University of Mary Fieldhouse in Bismarck. The Armory at Bismarck State College was considered, but Gov. Doug Burgum said officials determined the space was too small.

As of Thursday, there were 14 patients who were hospitalized in North Dakota with COVID-19, occupying a small percentage of the 2,400 beds available in current medical facilities around the state. Burgum said the Army Corps of Engineers had identified 10 possible sites in the state for temporary hospitals.

Meanwhile, state officials reported Thursday that a North Dakota man in his 60s had died of COVID-19, increasing the state’s death toll to five. The man was from Stark County and got the virus through community spread, which is when officials can’t trace how a person contracted a disease. He is the state’s youngest person to die of the disease.

Officials said 18 new cases were confirmed in the last day, increasing the total number of positive tests of 269. Nearly 9,000 people have been screened in North Dakota, about 97% of whom have tested negative.

Most of the positive tests released Thursday were from counties with the state’s largest cities, including six from Cass County (Fargo), four from Burleigh County (Bismarck) and three from Ward County (Minot).

More than 100 people in North Dakota have recovered from the virus.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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