The Red River Valley COVID-19 Task Force continues their work to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, more specifically in Cass County and neighboring Clay County, Minnesota.

As of Wednesday morning, 1,596 individuals in Cass County have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, more than 1,000 are listed as ‘recovered’.

“A rise in cases is expected,” Fargo Cass Public Health Director Desi Fleming said in a Wednesday morning briefing of the task force.

Fleming says the county is tracing more than 1,000 contacts as a result of the positive cases in Cass County, alone.

“These contact tracing calls are very important in protecting our community,” Fleming says.

On a per-capita basis, North Dakota leads the nation in both testing and contact tracing.

“North Dakota is well staffed and ready to follow up on the positives,” Dr. Paul Carson, NDSU Public Health Professor said.

Brenton Nesemeier, a North Dakota Department of Health Field Epidemiologist, says testing sites being set up in the metro area are ‘epi-driven.’

That correlates with the work being done across the metro, where emergency management is looking for the “greater risk in large businesses,” leading to Leon Schlafmann’s emergency management team working with Nesemeier and other epidemiologists to identify where the positives are occurring.

On the Minnesota side of the River, the Minnesota National Guard is working to test all residents and staff in Minnesota’s long-term care facilities, which contain many of the state’s most vulnerable population.

In addition, last week, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz had identified sites across Minnesota, most notably at National Guard armories across the state. One of those sites was at the National Guard Armory in Moorhead, where Kathy McKay, Clay County Public Health Director, says more than 800 tests were completed.

The group continues providing outreach opportunities.

Those with symptoms are reminded to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the result of the COVID-19 test.