A Sanford Health infectious disease specialist says COVID-19 continues across the country -- and will likely get worse in North Dakota.

"It will probably get worse, as far as total case numbers, over the next month," Sanford Health infectious disease specialist Avish Nagpal tells WZFG Radio. "This is due to schools and colleges reopening."

With regards to colleges, Nagpal says the state is seeing "small outbreaks" on campuses. As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, North Dakota State University reported 28 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, with 26 students confirmed to have the virus. In the northern valley, at the University of North Dakota, 247 cases of COVID-19 had been self-reported by faculty, staff and students. Of the 247 cases, 235 students have been confirmed to have the virus.

Nagpal says it takes four to six weeks for the virus to pick up momentum, after restrictions are lifted. As the cases continue to rise, hospitalizations and deaths have stabilized.

"There has been a significant decline in hospitalizations," he says. Those who are either elderly, or, more commonly, have major underlying complications, are making up a majority of the hospitalizations in North Dakota. Nagpal says the stabilization was expected, but notes that North Dakota lags behind the rest of the country by two to four weeks.

With regards to a slowing in the virus, Nagpal is optimistic.

"We will hopefully see a decline more towards the end of the year," he says.