Should you wear a mask in your county in South Dakota? Original

Note: This story has been updated to include comments from the S.D. Department of Health.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Based on the South Dakota Department of Health’s community transmission map, the Centers for Disease Control’s latest recommendation on indoor mask wearing would not apply. But, based on the CDC’s transmission map for South Dakota, its recommendation would apply to several counties.

The DOH determines community spread based on the number of new cases per week from Sunday through Saturday calculated from the data reported from the prior two weeks. The results are posted on the DOH website by noon each Wednesday. The S.D. DOH released new coronavirus data today, July 28.

The latest CDC map is from July 19 through July 25.

The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated persons were masks indoors in public “to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others,” if the person is in an area of substantial or high transmission.

Based on research shared by health experts, unvaccinated persons are fueling the spread of the Delta variant.

“We urge the public to get vaccinated at their earliest convenience, continue risk mitigation factors and make their decisions based on facts, not fear,” South Dakota Department of Health communications director Daniel Bucheli said in an email to KELOLAND News.

The DOH uses transmission levels of minimal, moderate and substantial, with substantial the most severe spread. According to the DOH website, minimal transmission is less than 10 cases per 100,000 or a minimum of one case. Moderate is 10 to 100 cases per 100,000 or a minimum of four cases. Substantial rate is 100 cases or more per 100,000.

But, in counties with a population of less than 35,000 people, a combination of rate and minimum cases is used. Sixty-two of the state’s 66 counties have a population of less than 35,000.

The CDC’s latest mask recommendation could change the criteria for DOH’s transmission map.

“(The DOH) community transmission criteria differs slightly than that of the CDC’s framework—yet they are very close. Given their just released information, we are further evaluating how our data can more closely reflect their framework, while meeting our communities’ needs and recognizing obvious regional/geographical/demographic differences,” Bucheli said in an email to KELOLAND News.

As of July 28, the S.D. DOH transmission map lists Pennington, Meade, Oglala, Lakota, Brown, Dewey, Roberts, Deuel, Brookings, Davison, Minnehaha, Lincoln and Union counties all with moderate transmission levels.

The CDC uses high, substantial, moderate or low in that order of severity.

Twenty-one counties in the state have substantial or high transmission, according to the CDC transmission map. Custer, Dewey, Bennett, Gregory, Brule, Davison, Clay, Union, Turner, Lincoln, Minnehaha, Lake, Kingsbury, Deuel, Codington, Grant and Brown counties have high transmission. Harding, Lawrence, Mellette and Clark have substantial transmission.

In Brown County, where the CDC lists high transmission, 56.6% of the population 12 and older has at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, according to the CDC.

In Minnehaha County, cases increased by more than 100% from July 19 through July 25 to 27.96 cases per 100,000, according to the CDC.

During the same time period, Dewey County had 12 cases for 203 cases per 100,000 people, according to the CDC. Dewey County is also listed with high transmission.

Statewide, 57% of the population 12 and older is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

According to the DOH, 54% of the state’s population 12 and older is fully vaccinated and 58.4% has received one dose.

The state has 13 confirmed cases of the Delta variant. As of July 22, the Delta variant accounted for about 80% of the new coronavirus cases in the U.S.

The state has moderate transmission as of the July 23 report, the CDC said. The state had a 25% increase in hospitalizations from the prior week and a 6% increase in cases.

On July 28, the state had 3.4 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days, according to the CDC. South Dakota’s positivity rate was 8% to 9.9%.

On July 28, the DOH listed the state’s positivity rate for PCR cases (non antigen) as 5.9% from July 20 to July 26.

“We are constantly evaluating and closely tracking community spread levels, and we will always re-assess reporting frequency manner, based on what the data/need dictates,” Bucheli said in his email.
“”The Department of Health will continue to provide all South Dakotans with the most up-to-date information as it becomes available.”

What’s the big deal with the Delta variant?

Like most new strains of a virus, research shows that the Delta variant can spread more quickly then the original coronavirus strains, according to the University of California Davis Health.

Serious symptoms include hearing impairment, severe gastrointestinal issues and blood clots leading to tissue death and gangrene, according to the American Society of Microbiology.

As of July 22, there were 65,000 breakthrough cases (or people who are vaccinated but got COVID-19) among the 160 million people who are fully vaccinated. That’s 0.04% of vaccinated people reporting breakthrough cases, according to the UC Davis Health.

In areas where vaccine rates may be low, especially rural areas, the Delta variant could overtax health care systems.

William Hanage of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said in a July 8 column that in general, those who get Delta will be sicker and about twice as likely to require hospital treatment than previous infected persons. The burden on the health care system will also increase, Hanage said in the column.

Earlier this month, healthcare systems in Springfield, Missouri, reported that Delta variant cases were overwhelming them.

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