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South Dakota National Guard deployed for COVID-19 reponse

August 31, 2021 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Tuesday she has activated nine soldiers from the state National Guard to help with COVID-19 testing in the western part of the state amid a surge of infections.

“This past week, I had conversations with all three South Dakota hospital systems and asked them what they needed as cases start to rise again,” she said in a statement. “Monument asked for the National Guard to assist them in their testing efforts, and we are happy to help.”

Over the past two weeks, the average number of infections has tripled statewide. The western part of the state has been the hardest hit, with Meade County, which hosted the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally earlier this month, leading the state in new cases per capita. The Department of Health reported last week that it had traced 63 cases among rallygoers.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide reached 216 — the largest number since January. Two deaths were also reported Tuesday, bringing the total death toll of people with COVID-19 in the state to 2,069. The health department said that Pennington County had more than twice as many new COVID-19 cases in the last day than any other county in the state.

Noem activated the National Guard last year to prepare field hospitals for a surge in patients, but the hospitals were not utilized.