Public health officials watching COVID-19 cases into February
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The number of active COVID-19 cases in South Dakota dropped Friday. But that comes as current hospitalizations remain high, with the state reporting additional deaths. Public health officials are echoing messages from healthcare systems to be vigilant against COVID-19 as February nears.
Sioux Falls Public Health Director Dr. Charles Chima said even as the number of active cases begins to taper off, the ever high hospitalizations and new deaths are a reminder that this pandemic is far from over.
“COVID is very much active in our community. It’s not something in the past. I know we are kind of mentally exhausted, but we cannot afford to let our guards down.” said Chima.
While hospitalizations aren’t as high as they were in November and December of 2020, the increased number of influenza cases in the state along with other routine medical incidents is making up for those numbers.
“That does mean hospitals are fill, and that individuals should do what they can to help prevent being hospitalized. And right now, COVID-19 is a major contributor in that respect.” said SD Department of Health State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton.
“If you look at what is happening in hospitals in terms of who is being hospitalized and who is being ventilated, it’s much more likely to be those who are unvaccinated. So that is the most important thing we can do, is make that decision.” said Chima.
Both Chima and Clayton said that as a country and state, many have been better off this surge than in previous ones with the help of vaccines and other treatments to temper hospitalizations and severe cases.
“We do have antivirals and monoclonal antibody treatments that are available to individuals who are at higher risk and are in the hospital. We do have a vaccine that is very effective at preventing COVID-19.” said Clayton.
Both said while it’s been a long stretch with the pandemic, almost two years in length in the United States, the public still needs to stay vigilant in preventing the spread of COVID-19, as a way to protect communities as a whole.
“It’s very important to stay home when you’re sick. It’s kind of an act of charity to protect your friends and neighbors.” said Chima.
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