Gov. Noem continues to watch hospitalization numbers as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in South Dakota

Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 9:48 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Governor Kristi Noem was in Sioux Falls Monday afternoon for a sit down with respected South Dakota Journalist Jack Marsh as part of this week’s Downtown Rotary Club meeting.

Among other topics, a major portion of the conversation was dedicated to the coronavirus response within South Dakota.

Gov. Noem continues to stick by her COVID response in the state, saying the current number of cases South Dakota is seeing isn’t a surprise.

Within the last week, COVID-19 cases in South Dakota have skyrocketed, jumping by nearly 2,000 since this past Monday, with active cases higher than they’ve ever been.

“We do anticipate that our death rate will increase in the coming weeks with all of the individuals that we have identified with COVID-19 in the state,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said.

As the total number of cases continues to rise, both locally and nationally, the danger of the virus is being downplayed by many on social media. This, because of a recent Center for Disease Control report suggesting that only 6% of COVID deaths have been directly attributed to the virus.

While that number is accurate, state health officials say it doesn’t tell the full story, because other contributing factors often play a role in the death of someone suffering from COVID, which isn’t reflected in that statistic.

“That 6% is being taken out of context,” Clayton said. “That should not be viewed as the only people who’ve died of COVID-19, we are not often seeing a single cause alone.”

So far, Gov. Noem has taken a hands-off approach during the pandemic, trusting South Dakotans to make their own choices.

When pressed by journalist Jack Marsh about the surge in cases during her sitdown today, Noem said she plans to stay the course, adding the jump in cases the state is seeing right now isn’t unexpected.

In fact, the surge happening now is much lower than what was predicted back in March, when models suggested COVID-19 would peak in June, and 10,000 hospital beds would be needed to care for those infected.

“What our healthcare systems did was incredible, and how they came together to help us prepare, and plan, and take care of people has been extremely helpful,” Noem said.

Currently, 76 South Dakotans are hospitalized with the virus, and Noem says that is the number state leaders and local health officials will continue to monitor.

“We have known for months that there were days we would see increased cases,” Noem said. “What we’re continuing to focus on at the state level is how many people we have in the hospital, and we’re still in really good shape in that area.”

When asked about her stance on mask-wearing, Noem said the science on the effectiveness of wearing a mask is mixed, and that she plans to continue leaving that decision up to the people.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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