SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota health official on Monday encouraged residents to redouble their “individual” efforts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, in line with the governor's insistence that personal responsibility, rather than government mandates, is the best way to address the pandemic.
After the Department of Health on Saturday reported the state's highest daily total of cases since May, state epidemiologist Josh Clayton issued a reminder that populated counties have a high risk of infections spreading in the community.
“Increases in cases like this are the reason why we want folks to pay attention to their individual actions to reduce the risk of COVID-19,” Clayton said.
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has been pushing people to take “personal responsibility” during the pandemic, resisting business closures, stay-at-home orders, or more recently, mask mandates. The approach has emboldened organizers of events including rodeos and motorcycle rallies to proceed with their plans.
But Camp Judson, a Christian summer camp near Keystone, saw an outbreak of the coronavirus among campers and canceled its plans to host junior high school students this week. Health officials said the number of cases tied to the camp was lower than 10, but that they would be monitoring camp participants as they returned home.
On Saturday, the state reported 105 confirmed new cases — its highest daily number since May. The spike appeared to be tied to an increase in the number of tests performed. The Department of Health reported 2,423 test results Saturday, and the positivity rate for tests has remained mostly steady over the last week.
Health officials also reported 49 new cases on Monday and no new deaths. Minnehaha County, which contains Sioux Falls, once again led the state in reported new cases. Health officials have not found any clusters of infections in the area, according to Clayton.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken tweeted over the weekend that the surge in confirmed cases was “a reminder of just how quickly things could change.”
Meanwhile, Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the Department of Health has received reports of scams in which callers pose as public health officials and request credit card information under the guise of sending a COVID-19 testing kit.
Malsam-Rysdon said Department of Health officials will never ask for financial information, but emphasized that it is still important people answer the phone if they receive a call from the Department.
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