South Dakota reports 3 new COVID-19 cases in one county
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota officials on Thursday reported three more positive cases of COVID-19 from a batch of 94 high-priority tests at the state health lab.
The lab halted testing this week after running out of supplies to conduct tests, but the lab obtained more supplies earlier in the day. Health officials are working with limited testing supplies, prioritizing tests from those who pose the greatest threat of spreading the coronavirus to vulnerable people.
All three people tested positive live in Beadle County. They include two men and one woman who are in their 30s, 40s, or 60s. Health officials will be interviewing them to see if there is evidence of community spread there.
Gov. Kristi Noem remained upbeat on the situation in South Dakota, saying that the relatively small number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 meant “the actions that we’ve taken are working.”
After testing 663 people for COVID-19, the state has 14 positive results, including one person who died. But there are 270 more tests waiting at the lab.
When Noem was asked by reporters why she has reiterated that there is no community spread while hundreds of tests await results, she said, “I have to use the data and the facts that I have to back up what I say.”
Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the state has supplies to run about 100 tests. They will be saving those for people like healthcare providers and nursing home workers who could easily spread the coronavirus.
Noem said she expected more supplies in the next few days.
“We certainly in this country don’t have enough supplies to test everyone,” the governor said.
In the meantime, the state lab is sending some of its tests to commercial labs out of the state. Those will take four or five days to process.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild cases recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe ones can take three to six weeks to get better.
The governor highlighted the positive stories emerging as the state shutters many of its usual activities and businesses bear the economic slowdown. The state call center for unemployment claims has seen an influx of calls in the last week, even adding phone lines and assigning more staff to keep up with the calls.
“We need to spend some time talking about how communities have come together,” Noem said.
Earlier in the day, she told staff at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Pierre they could be working for up to five more weeks, but added “we don’t necessarily know.”
Minnehaha County, which contains the state’s largest city Sioux Falls, has seen the most cases at five. Officials there continued to attempt to limit social interactions, with the mayor closing all non-essential city buildings in the hope it would push bars and restaurants to limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people. The city’s largest mall is also closed.
Federal courts in the state postponed all trials scheduled for the rest of the month. The South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice has also issued an order allowing judges to delay trials and limit visitors to court buildings throughout the state.
One of the state’s largest healthcare providers, Avera, said on Thursday it would postpone some elective surgeries. Kevin Post, the Chief Medical Officer for Avera, said they were preparing for a possible surge in patients from the coronavirus.
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