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South Dakota sets records for new, active COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths
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South Dakota sets records for new, active COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths

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Thursday set new records for the spread of coronavirus in South Dakota in new cases, active cases, current hospitalizations and deaths.

The DOH reported 463 new cases across the state, including 51 in Pennington County. The increase brings the state to a record 3,291 active cases, with 352 in Pennington County.

Thursday’s report came from 2,156 tests, marking another high positivity rate at 21.5%. Wednesday’s positivity rate set a record at 25%. 

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.

New cases continued to outpace recoveries, as 272 people were newly recovered Thursday, meaning they’re no longer able to transmit COVID-19 as defined by the DOH. The state has had 20,097 cases with 16,596 recoveries.

Eight people were newly hospitalized Thursday, contributing to a record 194 current COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state. 1,375 state residents have been hospitalized with coronavirus at some point in the pandemic.

A record of eight deaths were reported across the state, which has only happened on one other occasion, Sept. 16. The state’s death toll rose to 210.

The decedents were three women and five men. One was in their 70s, and seven were 80 or older. Two were from Minnehaha County, and the others died in Brown, Butte, Hughes, Pennington, Union and Walworth counties.

State epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said 120 people at the women’s prison in Pierre have COVID-19 after “additional testing” there.

Clayton also said in the state’s long-term care facilities, 226 residents have had a COVID-19 case, including 87 which are considered to have an active case. 15 long-term care residents have died. 460 staff in those facilities have had a case, 49 of which are active. 17 staff have required hospitalization.

COVID-19 cases peaking?

Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted Tuesday that the state’s COVID-19 spread “peaked the latest of just about any state.” By Wednesday, record numbers of new cases, active cases and hospitalizations were reported.

When asked if it’s too soon to know if South Dakota has reached its peak for COVID-19 cases, state health secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon agreed with the question.

Nationwide, other areas have seen peaks while the Midwest is just now seeing “our highest cases so far,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

“When we talk about peaks, we’re going to have to look at it in a larger context and really understanding COVID-19 will continue to be part of what we deal with,” she said. “What we’re seeing now is very much what other states have seen earlier” in the pandemic.

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Noem also tweeted Tuesday that “we continue to be in good shape with only 5% of our ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.”

As of Thursday, there are 2,397 hospital beds across the state, with 1,043 available. Of the state’s ICU beds, 101 of 245 are available, Malsam-Rysdon said.

The DOH website states that for staffed hospital bed capacity, COVID-19 patients occupy 8% of beds, non-COVID-19 patients occupy another 48% and 44% of beds are available.

For staffed ICU bed capacity, COVID-19 patients occupy 11% of those beds, non-COVID-19 patients occupy another 62% and 27% of beds are available.

The state has 252 ventilators, and 14 COVID-19 patients are on ventilators right now across four different hospitals in the state, Malsam-Rysdon said.

When South Dakota Public Broadcasting asked about reports that Sioux Falls hospitals and ICUs are full and have had to send COVID-19 patients out of state, Malsam-Rysdon said those are untrue rumors and that the DOH does not have any information that indicates people are being transferred out of the state.

Thirty-five hospitals are currently treating individuals with COVID-19, Malsam-Rysdon said. The most COVID-19 patients in any one of those hospitals right now is 39, she added.

The 100-bed field hospitals that the National Guard were enlisted to set up towards the beginning of the pandemic in early April have not had to be used yet, Malsam-Rysdon said.

“Those were always intended to be surge capacity when hospitals exceed their overall capacity,” she said.

Malsam-Rysdon added that all of the state’s metrics for hospital beds and capacity include IHS facilities.

School cases

Rapid City Area Schools reported 10 new cases Thursday for a total of 80 cases in the district. Ten staff and 23 students have an active case, which are included in the 39 staff and 257 students who are quarantined across the district.

Five Douglas School District students have an active case: one at Vandenberg Elementary School, three at the middle school and one at the high school. Thirty-eight students are in a 14-day quarantine.

Douglas also reports two staff members have an active case, including one at the middle school. Three staff are in a 14-day quarantine.

South Dakota’s public universities report the following active COVID-19 case counts as of 5 p.m. Thursday:

  • South Dakota Mines: 8 students, 0 staff, 41 quarantined

  • Black Hills State University: 20 students, 0 staff, 87 quarantined

  • University of South Dakota: 26 students, 0 staff, 123 quarantined

  • South Dakota State University: 26 students, 3 staff, 131 quarantined

  • Dakota State University: 5 students, 0 staff, 73 quarantined

  • Northern State University: 12 students, 2 staff, 54 quarantined

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