Health leaders concerned about rising COVID numbers at Sioux Falls hospitals
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The City of Sioux Falls, Sanford Health and Avera provided an update on the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday morning.
They discussed the current impact on the health systems, holiday safety, the Omicron variant, vaccinations and boosters.
Officials with Sanford Health and Avera say they are seeing growing numbers in their hospitals -- especially in the ICU.
Vice President Medical Officer of Sanford Health Dr. Mike Wilde said at this time, Sanford’s ICU capacity is under 10%.
“We continue to have concern that as our hospitals fill with COVID-19 patients we will not be able to provide prompt, quality care to our patients who are coming in with other medical needs,” Wilde said.
When it comes to all COVID-19 patients in hospitals right now, the majority are not vaccinated. That includes nearly all COVID-19 patients in the ICU and on ventilators.
Avera’s Vice President of Clinical Quality Dr. David Basel says its health system has seen an increase in COVID-19 patients since August, with roughly 150 patients at any given time.
“Even though the numbers were really low this summer, we’re back up, climbing, climbing, climbing,” Basel said.
Avera is also noticing a trend of younger COVID-19 patients.
Last year, the average patient was in their 70s. This year, the average age of patients is in the 50s.
“This year, it’s very common to admit someone in their 20s and 30s, and we’ve even lost children to this illness this year,” Basel said.
City Health Director Dr. Charles Chima touched on the Omicron variant. He said it’s too early to know exactly how it will affect the area, but he says the early data shows it is more transmissible than the Delta variant.
Chima also pointed out that Sioux Falls’ vaccination rate has increased by about 10% since June to roughly 60%.
“No vaccine has been more scrutinized in modern history than this vaccination,” Chima said. “So, we can assure you, based on the data that has been reviewed, the billions of people that have taken this vaccine all over the world, the hundreds of millions in the US, and the hundreds of thousands that have taken this vaccine in the state of South Dakota, that these vaccines are safe and effective.”
Officials continued to urge everyone to get vaccinated, adding that everyone who is eligible for a booster dose, should get one.
Dr. Basel emphasized, getting the vaccine is about protecting yourself, your family, and your community.
“More than 800,000 people in the United States have died from this disease,” Chima said. “Think about it, these were people that were alive last year.”
Dakota News Now reached out to Governor Kristi Noem’s office for her reaction to the rising COVID-19 numbers.
“Governor Noem is constantly aware of the situation regarding COVID-19 in the state and receives frequent updates from our Department of Health and our hospital systems,” Communications Director Ian Fury said. “She is grateful that we remain well within our hospital capacity statewide. She will continue trusting the people of South Dakota to exercise their personal responsibility to protect the health of themselves and their loved ones.”
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