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South Dakota beats active COVID-19 case record for fifth consecutive day
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South Dakota beats active COVID-19 case record for fifth consecutive day


Monday marked the fifth consecutive day that South Dakota broke its own record of active COVID-19 cases. The DOH reported 3,828 residents have an active COVID-19 infection.

The state’s highest number of active COVID-19 cases was previously seen on Sept. 5 when 3,057 South Dakotans had an infection.

Numbers have spiked since Wednesday when 3,108 active cases were seen, followed by more record-breaking reports of 3,291 on Thursday, 3,507 on Friday, 3,742 on Saturday and 3,790 on Sunday.

Health secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said Monday that some of the highest COVID-19 testing dates have occurred in the past week.

Between Sept. 21 and 27, 2,849 South Dakotans tested positive for COVID-19 while another 13,466 tested negative. The weekly positive rate of tests in South Dakota was 17.5%, among the highest of any other week in the state’s response to the pandemic.

Monday’s report alone marked a positive rate of 13.6% as 198 new cases were reported on 1,455 tests. 

The CDC has said a high percent positivity means there are widespread infections in the community tested, that only a subset of the community at risk for COVID-19 is being tested, or that there are reporting processes or delays that skew the results.

Malsam-Rysdon said the DOH isn’t hearing of any situations where people seeking testing are unable to access it. If the DOH hears of that, they’ll work on the local level to address that issue with a provider, she said.

“We are actively working to increase testing numbers so that anybody that does have symptoms, they should be tested,” Malsam-Rysdon said. “People that show symptoms should contact their provider to be tested, and the other recommendation is that asymptomatic close contacts should also seek testing.”

Monday's report included an increase of 17 new coronavirus cases in Pennington County, moving the county to 426 active infections.

Hospital space

Fifteen people were newly hospitalized with COVID-19 Monday, contributing to the DOH figure that 209 South Dakotans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. 1,488 state residents have been hospitalized at some point in the pandemic.

Gov. Kristi Noem’s “Back to Normal Plan” for South Dakota said hospitals treating COVID-19 patients should reserve 30% of their hospital beds to meet surge demand.

Thirty-three hospitals are taking care of anywhere from one to 40 COVID-19 patients now, Malsam-Rysdon said.

“We have plenty of capacity for hospital beds,” she said, noting 1,097 beds are available in the state. “Hospitals are complying with the reopening plan.”

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Nine percent of the state’s staffed hospital beds are occupied by a COVID-19 patient, while another 46% of those beds are occupied by a non-COVID-19 patient. 45% of those beds are free.

Twelve percent of staffed ICU beds in the state are occupied by a COVID-19 patient, while another 60% of those beds are occupied by a non-COVID-19 patient. 28% of those beds are available.

Malsam-Rysdon said beds in long-term care facilities aren’t included in the state’s tallies for bed capacity as listed on

Monday’s report by the DOH brought the state to a total of 21,738 cases, with 17,692 considered recovered.

State epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said of the 181 inmates and staff at the Pierre women’s prison who tested positive for COVID-19, 97 have recovered.

DOC data shows there are more cases than the DOH reported. The DOC has found 185 cases among inmates at the South Dakota Women's Prison and Pierre Community Work Center, and nine cases among staff at both facilities. Thirteen of the cases among inmates at the women's prison were new on Monday.

Clayton also said the DOH hasn’t identified any cases that have pointed to state fair attendance in connection to their COVID-19 diagnosis, and therefore the department hasn’t issued any public notices for the event.


In the state’s K-12 schools, Clayton said there have been 1,371 COVID-19 cases among 968 students and 406 staff. Of all the cases, 971 have recovered.

Rapid City Area Schools reported 104 total cases in the district, including 34 active cases among students and eight active cases among staff. 348 students and 39 staff are in quarantine.

The Douglas School District reported eight active cases among students and one in a staff member Monday, with 47 students and four staff in quarantine. As of Friday, Meade School District reports 17 active cases among students.

Across the state’s technical colleges and universities, Clayton said there have been 1,329 COVID-19 cases among 1,263 students and 66 staff. Of all the cases, 1,179 have recovered.

When asked why the cases in higher education are decreasing while K-12 cases have increased week-to-week, Clayton said there’s a difference in “care-seeking behavior.”

Young adults may be less likely to seek testing if they’re identified as a close contact or if they develop mild symptoms, Clayton said.

The DOH has a “strong focus” on working with K-12 schools to access learning safely, and an additional focus on contacting close contacts, Clayton said, noting he’s not aware of any individual actions beyond that which may show the recent decrease in college cases.

The state’s public colleges report the following active case counts as of 5 p.m. Monday:

  • South Dakota Mines: 5 students, 1 staff, 23 quarantined

  • Black Hills State University: 18 students, 1 staff, 93 quarantined

  • University of South Dakota: 20 students, 1 staff, 81 quarantined

  • South Dakota State University: 12 students, 1 staff, 91 quarantined

  • Dakota State University: 10 students, 0 staff, 71 quarantined

  • Northern State University: 6 students, 2 staff, 50 quarantined

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