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State now has 1,311 cases of COVID-19; Pennington County has 10th case
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State now has 1,311 cases of COVID-19; Pennington County has 10th case

Numbers Thursday

Cases related to the outbreak of COVID-19 at Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls surged again Thursday as the Department of Health reported 598 employees and 135 of their close contacts have the coronavirus.

The state now has 1,311 positive COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health reported Thursday. Minnehaha County has 1,065 of those cases.

One new case was reported in Pennington County, which now has had 10 people test positive for the coronavirus. Six of those have recovered, according to the health department's website.

The Department of Health only reports on cases that have tested positive and doesn’t test asymptomatic individuals, said Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist.

The health department also reported one new death: a Minnehaha County man in his 60s.

Officials didn’t specify whether the man worked at Smithfield, but he fits the description of Augustín Rodriguez, who died Tuesday morning. His family said to the Argus Leader that he was “worked to death” at Smithfield Foods while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms like fever and cough.

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The outbreak at Smithfield is the largest in the state, and New York Times data suggests it is the largest outbreak in the U.S. The plant employs 3,700 people, including many immigrants and refugees.

The Sioux Falls meatpacking plant closed indefinitely Wednesday, but a source close to Smithfield workers said employees who work in maintenance are still working up to nine days at the plant.

Clayton said the Department of Health is working on releasing data by race and ethnicity, but didn’t give a timeline of when it would be released or whether it would be available to the public. He said the department sees an “overrepresentation” of Asian-American people with COVID-19.

Health officials said Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was in Sioux Falls to assess the outbreak at Smithfield. Clayton said Thursday they didn’t have a timeline on when the CDC’s assessment would be released.

Other new COVID-19 cases reported by the state Department of Health by county include singular cases in Hamlin, Jerauld, Lake, Moody, Pennington and Yankton counties. Six new cases were found in Lincoln County, and 131 in Minnehaha.

Derrick Haskins, communications director for the state Department of Health, said employees and customers to the Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood and the Yankton Walmart no longer need to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms as the 14-day incubation period for coronavirus has passed.

“Folks no longer need to self-monitor related to their potential exposure at these businesses,” Haskins said. “It is important to remember that COVID-19 is still circulating in communities.”

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