SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The state of South Dakota is well within reach of the coronavirus models projecting 1,000 COVID-19 deaths by Dec. 1.
The state already had 821 COVID-19 deaths as of Nov. 24, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. Deaths have nearly doubled since the 437 deaths recorded as of Nov. 1.
The projections from several models have been wrong when it comes to deaths. But it’s because the actual number of deaths has been higher than projected.
The ensemble model is a compilation of 36 coronavirus models for the state and shared by the Centers for Disease Control. The model is neither the high end of what a single model projects nor is it on the low end of what a single model projects. It shows nearly 1,000 deaths by Dec. 1. Several others show the state reaching 1,000 deaths by Dec. 1.
Deaths are one piece of data studied during the pandemic.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) website says, “daily deaths is the best indicator of the progression of the pandemic, although there is generally a 17-21 day lag between infection and deaths.” The IHME is associated with the University of Washington.
Daily death counts can also vary significantly from day to day in South Dakota. The DOH has said in news briefings and on its website that it does not report deaths until a certified death certificate has been filed with COVID-19 as a cause or contributing factor. By law, a death certificate must be filed within five days of death, according to the DOH.
The time between a death and certification can account for why daily death counts in South Dakota are often lower on Mondays and Tuesdays and then increase on following days.
The CDC ensemble model for Nov. 16 projects 1,000 deaths in December and climbing again by Dec. 15.
When death statistics are reviewed in South Dakota, they show that coronavirus is contributing to excess deaths in the state. So while people continue to die of other causes, when compared to other years, COVID-19 is contributing to those excess deaths.
Also more people are dying from COVID-19 than total number of people who died from the flu in the past 10 years in South Dakota, according to DOH and CDC data.
Individuals older than 70 and those in nursing homes account for a large number of deaths in South Dakota; those trends are similar to the nation’s trends.
The IHME projected in mid-October that South Dakota would have 332.36 COVID-19 deaths by Oct. 26.
The state had 375 deaths on Oct. 26, according to the S.D. DOH.
The same Oct. 15 model projected 830 COVID-19 deaths by Feb. 1.
A Nov. 19 IHME model projects 857.8 deaths by Dec. 1 and 1,191,75 deaths by Dec. 31. Daily deaths would increase to about 18 per day on Dec. 9 and then start to decline. There would be 3.79 deaths per day on Jan. 17.
The Bob Pagano model projects that South Dakota will have 1,041 deaths by Dec. 1 and 1,727.8 deaths by Dec. 31. Deaths per day would continue to climb to about 28 per day on Dec. 29 and then start to decline to 5.4 on Jan. 17.
On Oct. 15, the Bob Pagano model’s projection for deaths was closer to reality with 372.21 deaths projected on the high end and 328.902 on low end as of Oct. 26.
The Google and Harvard Health Institute model projects that from Nov. 22 through Dec. 19 South Dakota will have 564 new deaths.
The model also projects 38,900 new confirmed COVID-19 cases during this 28-day period.
The CDC ensemble model for the state shows weekly death tolls, which have generally steadily increased since September.
Excess deaths is another data set analysists and health experts review to monitor the spread and severity of the coronavirus.
South Dakota had 606 total COVID-19 deaths for the week ending Nov. 21 and a total of 7,128 deaths, according to the National Center on Health Statistics. The NCHS said the total of all deaths is 106% of expected deaths, which means there are more deaths than was expected. The percent of expected deaths is the number of deaths for all causes for this week in 2020 compared to the average number across the same week in 2017–2019, the NCHS said in its recent report.
The NCHS has 606 COVID-19 deaths but the DOH’s update had 777 COVID-19 deaths on Nov. 21. The NCHS said its numbers may not be complete for each weekly date because of the “lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to NCHS and processed for reporting purposes.”
Many COVID-19 deaths have happened in nursing home residents.
Nursing home residents account for 8% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. but account for 40% of all deaths, the Kaiser Family Foundation said on Oct. 27.
South Dakota has had 50 resident deaths per 1,000 people in nursing homes this month, according to a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services report. The state had 224.9 cases per 1,000 residents as of Nov. 15.
COVID-19 is also more deadly than the annual flu.
The Centers for Disease Control uses 12,000 to 61,000 flu-related deaths a year in the U.S. on average since 2010.