SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota is making national headlines for its latest surge in COVID 19 cases.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the rate of new cases per 100,000 people is now higher in South Dakota than in any other state. The report says the state had 227 new cases per day as of Sept. 1.
With 334 new cases on Thursday, the state now has more than 3,000 active cases. That’s the highest number the state has seen since the beginning of the pandemic.
The state did not confirm any new deaths on Thursday and 76 people are hospitalized.
The New York Times COVID-19 tracking has South Dakota with an average of 307 new cases per day over the past week as of Sept. 3.
State epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said in mid-June the state would not be experience a statewide peak in COVID-19 cases but instead would see peaks and valleys around the state.
Clayton said on Thursday the recent case surge was within anticipated possibilities.
“I certainly was not wanting to see this high level of cases,” Clayton said. “But this was definitely in the realm of possibility of what I was thinking.”
Clayton said public behavior is playing a role in the recent surge. Individuals are gathering without taking precautions against COVID-19, he said.
Clayton reminded people to use physical distance, wash hands, wear masks and follow other recommendations.
The state could continue to see similar case surges if people do not take those proper precautions, Clayton said.
This is at least the third time the state has reached a top spot for COVID-19 cases. The state became the fourth highest COVID-19 hot spot in the nation when 190 COVID-19 cases were tied to the Smithfield meat packing plant on April 10. As cases continued to increase to 644, the state became the top hot spot on April 15.