13 COVID-19 deaths reported in South Dakota; Hospitalizations surpass 300

An individual performs an at-home COVID-19 test. (File)
An individual performs an at-home COVID-19 test. (File)(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 11:44 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota health officials reported 13 new COVID-19 deaths Thursday as cases and hospitalizations continued to rise sharply in the state.

The Department of Health reported 2,183 new infections, while active cases rose by over 1,700 to 14,355. The state is currently seeing the highest number of active cases since Dec. 10, 2020, which was the tail end of the state’s first major surge.

The latest deaths bring South Dakota’s total to 2,520. Of the 13 new deaths, one person was in their 30s, two in their 40s, one in their 50s, four in their 60s, and five people were over age 80.

Current hospitalizations rose by 18 to 305. While the state’s COVID-19 dashboard does not track vaccination status among hospitalized patients, a recent post from Sanford Health shows roughly 88% of the COVID-19 patients hospitalized in their health care system are not vaccinated.

Here are the latest numbers of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19. Getting vaccinated can help protect against...

Posted by Sanford Health on Tuesday, January 4, 2022
How do at-home tests impact case count?

Like most states, South Dakota’s coronavirus case count is likely skewed by at-home tests. While the state offers an at-home testing program with results that are included in the state’s count, most of these tests are purchased at stores, and are not reported to the state.

Dakota News Now reached out to the Department of Health about the impact of at-home testing on the state’s count, as well as what people who test positive with one of these tests should do. Communications Director Daniel Bucheli gave us the following statement:

“Test results from Vault Health (free test kits provided through the Department of Health), along with tests carried out in medical settings/providers offices, are reported directly to DOH by the testing laboratory. We advise those who test positive at home, using any other over-the-counter commercially available at-home test, to notify their medical provider, continue to monitor symptoms closely, and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen.”

Many health experts have long said hospitalizations are a better COVID-19 tracking metric, in large part because it does not require any voluntary testing. While current hospitalizations have hovered above 200 since the fall, Thursday’s spike back above 300 marks the state’s highest mark since December of 2020. Hospitalizations peaked in November of 2020 at nearly 600.

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