The state Department of Health reported 876 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, surpassing its previous single-day high of 772 cases last Friday.
South Dakota has a total of 6,604 active cases, another new record. 30,215 state residents have tested positive while 23,320 have recovered, and 291 have died from coronavirus.
Three more South Dakotans died of COVID-19, including one woman and two men from Codington, Douglas and Pennington counties, according to Wednesday's report. One was in their 70s and two were 80 or older.
Wednesday’s report came from 4,245 new tests for a positive rate of 20.6%. When asked why the statewide positive testing rate has remained so high — over 20% since Thursday — DOH Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said point prevalence surveys in long-term care facilities and other forms of sentinel testing have led to the high rate. Malsam-Rysdon did not specify which facilities had seen outbreaks.
Fifty-two new hospitalizations were reported Wednesday, adding to the 303 current hospitalizations across the state.
Sixty-seven COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in the Black Hills; nine are in ICU beds and five are on ventilators:
One at Cheyenne River Health Center
Three at Hans P. Peterson Memorial Hospital in Philip
47 at Monument Health Rapid City; eight in ICU beds and five on ventilators
Six at Monument Health Spearfish; one in an ICU bed
Seven at Pine Ridge IHS
Three at Regional Health Sturgis
State epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said the hospital data they provide has limitations, pointing to the reason they don’t provide data for VA facilities.
Clayton said of the 259 cases among inmates and staff at the South Dakota women’s prison, 233 have recovered. Five more cases have been found there since last week, and Clayton said he anticipates this would be the last week of reports on the cluster of cases.
So far, the state has conducted 342,962 tests on 222,321 people. When Gov. Kristi Noem was asked about the increasing hospitalizations and case numbers on Tuesday, she pointed to increased testing numbers across the state.
“That’s normal, that’s natural, that’s expected,” Noem said Tuesday.
Noem’s state health officials dodged a question from a reporter Wednesday asking whether they agreed with the governor’s statements.
When asked if she should continue to campaign for President Trump at a time when South Dakota is experiencing the deadliest month for COVID-19 and a surge in cases, Noem said that “if we do not focus on the election and if President Trump is not in office, there are consequences” for South Dakota.
State health officials also did not disagree with Noem’s decision not to issue a mask mandate or shelter-in-place order Wednesday when asked, pointing to other states that saw cases regardless of their orders.
Malsam-Rysdon said in many situations where states had lockdowns or mandatory business closures they are “not seeing dramatically different results in terms of case numbers, positivity rates and death rates” than what South Dakota has seen.
Clayton said he hadn’t seen any studies in South Dakota about residents’ compliance with DOH recommendations on mask-wearing, or any data relating to evidence that shows lockdowns are effective.
Rapid City Area Schools reports 70 active COVID-19 cases among 50 students and 20 staff, a decrease of eight active students cases and three active staff cases from Tuesday. Fifty-one staff members and 590 students are in quarantine.
Douglas School District reports two students and one staff have an active case, while 24 students and four staff are in quarantine.
South Dakota’s public universities report the following active cases as of noon Wednesday:
South Dakota Mines: 15 students, 0 staff, 42 quarantined
Black Hills State University: 20 students, 1 staff, 65 quarantined
University of South Dakota: 41 students, 8 staff, 156 quarantined
South Dakota State University: 27 students, 5 staff, 105 quarantined
Dakota State University: 2 students, 3 staff, 11 quarantined
Northern State University: 10 students, 7 staff, 44 quarantined