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95% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in SD not vaccinated

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 7:21 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -The number of active COVID-19 cases jumped up in South Dakota’s latest coronavirus report. The department of health released its weekly report Wednesday showing a 40-percent increase in active COVID-19 cases. And the number of people currently hospitalized due to COVID almost doubled in the past week up to 38.

Health officials also reported one additional COVID-19 death. And the number of people currently hospitalized due to COVID almost doubled in the past week up to 38.

Meantime, the number of new vaccinations in the state has slowed to a crawl. State data shows South Dakota has averaged around 2,000 new inoculations per week over the past month. The state averaged more than that per day from February through April.

Just under 58-percent of South Dakotans over age 12 have received at least one dose while 53-percent are fully vaccinated. Both are several percentage points lower than the national average.

Health officials are keeping a close eye on all of this, especially as the Delta variant becomes more widespread.

According to the department of health, since the vaccine became available in December, 98 percent of those who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are unvaccinated. And 95 percent of individuals hospitalized for COVID-19 are also unvaccinated.

This is why health officials are urging everyone to get the shot.

“What we are seeing is that those that are vaccinated, do have the antibodies to fight it off. What we really track is the percent of cases that turn into severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths. That’s where we have really seen the benefit of those that are vaccinated. It doesn’t tend to lead to those worsening conditions,” said Dr. Kevin Post, Avera Medical Group Chief Medical Officer.

The DOH has also found that those who’ve already been infected with COVID-19 were less likely to be reinfected.

“We are still seeing some good protection from the antibody that are developed from natural infection as well,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, South Dakota State Epidemiologist.

However, Clayton says, “Vaccination does offer the most important protections against the risk of infection and so, you know, we really want to make folks aware that vaccinations are available.”

One big concern on health officials’ minds right now are variants of the virus popping up like the Delta variant.

“What’s somewhat unique about the Delta variant, which has us somewhat concerned, is that it’s proved to spread more easily from person to person and also seems to cause more severe illness,” said Dr. Post.

“The more people that get it, the more significant illness you are going to have. That’s just the odds of how this is going to happen,” said Dr. Mike Wilde, Vice President Medical Officer for Sanford Health in Sioux Falls.

“And then the more people with vaccine who get exposed over and over again, eventually you’re going to have breakthrough cases,” he added.

Dr. Clayton says around a dozen cases of the Delta variant have been identified so far in South Dakota.

Meanwhile, he says there have been 421 breakthrough cases where someone has gotten COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. However, Dr. Clayton says that’s a small percentage compared to all the people who’ve tested positive for the virus.

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