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Monument Health projects West River COVID-19 cases will nearly triple in the next two weeks
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Monument Health projects West River COVID-19 cases will nearly triple in the next two weeks

Monument Health Hospital 20200320

Experts at Monument Health have determined that COVID-19 cases will surpass more than 775 cases in the next two weeks, and the area will see its peak infection rate change from early July to late June.

“COVID-19 is real and projected to grow rapidly in our region over the coming weeks,” said Dan Daly, spokesman for Monument Health.

Cases West River reached 273 total COVID-19 cases and 179 of those are active cases, according to the latest data from the state health department. The bulk of the cases are in Pennington County, with 172 total cases, 3 deaths and 134 active cases.

Monument Health’s short-term projections are based on data from the past two weeks, which were used to calculate expected growth over the next two weeks. The hospital system says in 14 days, the number of COVID-19 cases West River could grow to 776.

Monument Health is basing their projections off of a growth factor known as the doubling rate. The current rate is eight days, as Tuesday’s positives were at 266. The time span from when the number of cases was at half of that number was eight days ago on May 19 when there were 137 positive cases.

As the doubling rate increases (meaning the time span will be shorter as cases increase), the number of confirmed cases will in turn begin to multiply quickly. The hospital system notes the actual rate could be shorter “because there are community members who are most likely positive, asymptomatic and who have not been tested,” they said in a release.

The hospital system also said in a press release that they have 30 COVID-19 patients hospitalized Wednesday, “which means that the region is trending a week ahead of the projected peak in local infections,” the release states.

Monument Health’s projections combine with statewide data to factor in the impact of tourism and summer events in the Black Hills region. The projections, they say, estimate that Rapid City Hospital would have had only half those patients today - 15 of them.

Projections previously showed West River peak infections would hit in early July. With what the state is seeing today, Monument Health estimates the peak may hit earlier, in late June. The hospital system estimates COVID-19 hospitalizations in Rapid City could grow from 30 to 400 by late June.

Monument Health said it’s prepared for the potential surge, “but it will certainly stretch capacity from both a space and staffing standpoint,” according to a release.

The projections Monument Health and the state both reference are based on the assumption that the community’s adherence to social distancing would be at a rate of 50 percent.

“However, it’s estimated that the community’s adherence to social distancing is likely lower -- close to 25 percent,” Daly said.

Results from antibody testing, which show whether a patient had COVID-19 in the past, reveal that the coronavirus hasn’t been present in the community until recently. Monument Health reports that of the 2,221 antibody tests taken from patients so far, only 21 tests have come back positive.

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