DOH officials said COVID-19 numbers keep improving but masks, social distance still part of the new normal

KELOLAND.com Original

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Coronavirus pandemic numbers are improving overall in the state but it’s not time to abandon practices that led to improvement, two South Dakota Department of Health officials said on Tuesday.

Dr. Josh Clayton, the DOH’s epidemiologist, said in a news briefing that five-day moving averages of new COVID-19 cases show cases are smoothing out.

“We’ve flattened the curve mightily,” S.D. Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said.

The state had a five-day moving average of 178 new positive cases on May 10 and on May 27, that average was 67.

The five-day moving average takes the cases on that day, the numbers from the prior two days and the numbers from the next two days and calculates the average.

The charts reflect good trends in the state, Clayton and Malsam-Rysdon said but that doesn’t mean health and safety practices should end.

Physical social distancing of at least six feet in group settings, wearing cloth masks and protecting the vulnerable population should still continue, Clayton and Malsam-Rysdon said.

Those practices are part of the new normal for now, Clayton said.

“We are not past the pandemic,” Clayton said. “I do not see this as a short-term concern.”

Although the need for hospital beds for COVID-19 patients has been reduced significantly, hospitalizations and positive cases will continue this summer and into the fall, Clayton said.

The 14-day trend line in positive cases has been declining. With this trend, the positive cases over a 14-day period are calculated for the average over the period.

The 14-day trend line and the five-day moving average are charts available on the DOH website as of Tuesday.


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