SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota has averaged about 298 new coronavirus cases a day in the past week.
As of Aug. 24, the state had 11,425 cases and has 13,509 cases on Aug. 31, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. That’s 2,084 new cases over seven days for about 298 new cases per day.
The New York Times COVID-19 tracker said the past week’s (through Aug. 30) increase is about a 206% increase over the prior two weeks.
The 2,084 new cases over seven days is about the size of the population of Beresford, Fort Pierre or Redfield.
Dr. Joshua Clayton, the epidemiologist with the DOH, said in an Aug. 31 news briefing that the transmission spread in the state had shifted so that 19 counties had moderate COVID-19 transmission and 15 had substantial transmission. 23 had minimal transmission while nine had none, Clayton said.
However, the DOH transmission map still listed 47 counties with moderate or substantial transmission as of Aug. 31.
The state’s positivity rate over the past seven days was 16.8%, according to the DOH website. The 14-day rate was 13.7%. The positivity rate is an indicator of community transmission.
South Dakota had 8,867 cases on Aug. 1. It increased by 4,642 by Aug. 31, which is more than the population of Canton and Pine Ridge or the about the combined population of North Eagle Butte and Flandreau.
The growth in new COVID-19 cases has mainly been in several counties including Meade, Pennington, Brookings, Clay, Lincoln and Minnehaha.
When someone considers that South Dakota has 13,509 COVID-19 cases, “that number is difficult for people to reconcile,” Clayton said.
There are not that many diseases or viruses that impact that many people in such a short time, Clayton said.
But while the rates of new COVID-19 cases continue to increase, DOH secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon pointed out that the state’s COVID-19 deaths have recently declined.
“The death rate is in a downward trend,” Malsam-Rysdon said.
The DOH officials didn’t say what the death rate was but did say the state measured the deaths in relation to the state’s population.
Measuring the state’s death rate by population determines the COVID-19 mortality rate, according to health experts. It’s often described as COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people in a state or country.
Health experts also monitor the deaths per COVID-19 cases or case fatality ratio (CFR.)
While the death rate may have declined recently, Clayton said because COVID-19 cases have increased “we would anticipate the death rate will increase in the coming weeks.”
The state had 76 COVID-19 patients in the hospital as of Aug. 31.
DOH, Avera and Sanford health officials have said in the past two weeks that an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients that can be cared for at home has reduced the number of people who need hospitalization.
Deaths and hospitalizations, although two of the main indicators of the spread and seriousness of COVID-19, often lag behind the number of new cases.
A popular post on social media has focused on a piece of data included in the Centers of Disease Control’s recent weekly update which says: “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”
Twitter removed the post as false news on Sunday, according to CBSnews.com.
Malsam-Rysdon and Clayton said while COVID-19 may be the only cause mentioned for 6% of deaths, that does not mean only 6% of all deaths listed as COVID-19 deaths are actually COVID-19 deaths.
COVID-19 is part of the cause of death in other cases, they said.
“There’s not often a single cause of death alone,” Clayton said.
COVID-19 causes complications for those with underlying medical conditions, Clayton said. The complications contribute to death, he said.