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Noem says projections show up to 600,000 South Dakotans could get COVID-19

 Chart showing projected COVID-19 cases in South Dakota, courtesy State of South Dakota
Chart showing projected COVID-19 cases in South Dakota, courtesy State of South Dakota (KSFY)
Published: Apr. 3, 2020 at 2:22 PM CDT
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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is defending the state's actions in its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, saying people in the state are help flattening the curve.

In a briefing Friday, Noem said the latest projections suggest between 30 and 70 percent of South Dakotans may eventually get infected with COVID-19.

"When we're looking at our data, our numbers and the amount of people that will get it, we anticipate it will be between 265,000 to 600,000 people in South Dakota," Noem said.

Noem said 80 percent of people who become infected will have minor cases, or show no symptoms at all. She said the state's effort to push back the state's peak date - now projected to hit in mid-June - health facilities now have more time to prepare for surge capacity.

The governor has faced push back over the state's response, particularly in regard to a statewide shutdown. South Dakota is one of five states that currently has no general state-at-home order. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infection disease expert, recently told

he "doesn't know why" some states have not issued such an order. The

also recently asked the governor to consider stronger measures.

Noem has said all along the state is not taking a one-size-fits-all approach. She said what works in New York may not work in South Dakota, and what works in Sioux Falls may not work in Webster.

She also said what the state has already done - is working. Noem said when she first learned about the virus' impact on the state, she feared its speed would "crash" our health care system. But she believes that will not be the case.

"Because of what the people of South Dakota have done, because they have done exactly what I asked them to do, by staying apart, staying home, washing their hands, limiting group size - it is working. It is working. We have cut the number of people on our peak infection date in half," Noem said.

The state released a chart - the main picture on this story, above - showing projected cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota over time.

Without mitigation efforts, the projections show a much higher peak hitting in late April. With current levels of mitigation efforts, the projections show a much lower peak, hitting in mid-June.

The projections also show during the peak, South Dakota would need 5,000 hospital beds and 1,300 ventilators. Noem said the state currently does not currently have the required amount of either of those - but officials plan to by the time the peak hits.

Gov. Kristi Noem's COVID-19 briefing

LIVE at 1 p.m.: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and other state officials are giving an update on the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Posted by Dakota News Now on Friday, April 3, 2020