DOH: Too soon to stay if South Dakota is peaking with COVID-19

KELOLAND.com Original

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Department of Health Officials say it’s too soon to say South Dakota has peaked in terms of the coronavirus pandemic.

In mid-June, Dr. Joshua Clayton, the epidemiologist for DOH, said South Dakota wouldn’t have a statewide peak but more peaks and valleys in areas around the state.

During a Sept. 24 news briefing, Clayton said that in June, the expectation was that there would be peaks and valleys in the more vulnerable populations in areas around the state and not statewide.

“Really what we have seen here is that happening on a larger scale across the state,” Clayton said.

He cited events where individuals gather as being at risk in the spread of coronavirus.

Clayton said it’s still unknown if recent increases in COVID-19 numbers are because of factors such as schools and colleges starting in the fall, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and “other little things that kind of come together…”

The Sept. 24 chart from the South Dakota Department of Health.

DOH Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said it’s too soon to say the state has reached a peak.

Clayton said, “We know where we are at this point in time.”

On Sept. 22, Gov. Kristi Noem said on her Twitter account that “it looks like South Dakota’s COVID-19 spread peaked the latest of just about any state.”

Noem’s comment also included, “Even so we continue to be in good shape with only 5% of our ICU beds occupied by COVID patients. It just goes to show that you don’t need lockdowns to be responsible and flatten the curve.”

KELOLAND News asked Ian Fury, director of communications for the Governor, about Noem’s tweet that appears to contradict health officials’ comments about the COVID-19 spread. Fury was also asked what data and science Noem was using to determine that South Dakota had peaked in terms of COVID-19 spread.

Governor Noem agrees with DOH officials that the numbers will fluctuate. That said, recent weeks have shown the highest such fluctuation (both in terms of case numbers and hospitalizations,) while keeping us well within the capacity of our healthcare system as Governor Noem referenced in the Tweet. All of this is evidence that we were successful in flattening the proverbial curve.

Ian Fury

Clayton said individuals need to take precautions and identify what risks they may be taking when they are gathering with families and others.

When they’re in areas of high levels of community spread, individuals need to be extra cautious while running errands, being in school or at work, Clayton said.


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