SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As coronavirus coverage continues, KELOLAND News has put together a list of commonly-used terms and definitions to help viewers better understand stories and data about COVID-19. This list will continue to evolve as world, federal, state and local health officials learn more about the illness.

Coronavirus: A family of viruses, some of which cause disease in people and animals, named for crownlike spikes on their surfaces.

COVID-19: Stands for the coronavirus disease 2019. It is caused by the novel virus SARS-CoV-2. 

Asymptomatic: Medical term for no symptoms or without symptoms. 

CARES Act: Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. It’s the U.S. government’s coronavirus aid bill. 

CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Epidemic, pandemic: An epidemic is the rapid spreading of disease in a certain population or region; a pandemic is an epidemic that has spread worldwide.

Incubation period: Time between infection and appearance of signs or symptoms of an illness. 

PPE: Personal Protective Equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that can cause illness and injuries. 

Quarantine: Restricting movement of healthy people who may have been exposed to an infection to see if they become ill. 

Social distancing: Involves measures to restrict when and where people can gather with a goal to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. 

Data Terms in South Dakota 

COVID-19 test: Case results include testing done by the South Dakota Public Health Laboratory in Pierre as well as private laboratories around the state. 

SARS-CoV-2 PCR test: The original standard test for coronavirus counts. The PCR test detects the virus’s genetic material. The South Dakota Department of Health considers any positive RT-PCR test as a confirmed case.

SARS-CoV-2 antigen test: An antigen test, is a test that can pick up smaller amounts of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, in quicker fashion by detecting specific proteins. The South Dakota Department of Health considers any positive antigen test a “probably case” unless confirmed also by a PCR test.

Active cases: Current positive cases. People who have recently tested positive and have not yet recovered. Positive test results – recovered patients – number of deaths = Active cases.

Positive cases: Total positive cases. This is a cumulative total for the pandemic.

Negative cases: Total numbers of negative tests. 

Total test positivity rate: The number of positive cases divided by total tests within a specific time period. The DOH calculates that based on the results of the PCR test results (confirmed cases) but doesn’t release total numbers for how many PCR tests are done daily.

New person positivity rate: The number of positive cases divided by the number of new persons tested for a specific time period. The actual positivity rate lies between total test positivity rate and the new person positivity rate.

Currently hospitalized: Number of people currently hospitalized.  In a change of reporting, the South Dakota Department of Health says as of Aug. 27, current hospitalizations now may include out-of-state cases.

Ever hospitalized: Number of people ever needing some sort of hospitalization. As of Aug. 27, the South Dakota Department of Health says this figure only includes South Dakota residents.

Deaths: Deaths are not reported until a certified death record has been filed. State law in South Dakota requires a death record to be filed within five days of the date of death. 

Recovered: People who don’t have symptoms and have been fever-free for at least 72 hours.  Recovered people have also been isolated for enough time to not be at-risk of spreading the disease.

Community spread: Community spread means patients have been infected in an area where people aren’t sure how or where they became infected. It is defined in different levels by the South Dakota Department of Health. 

  • None: COVID-19 cases may occur in the community, but there is no community transmission. 
  • Minimal to Moderate: There are 1-4 cases of community-acquired COVID-19 in a county. 
  • Substantial: There are 5+ cases of community-acquired COVID-19 in a county or distinct group of cases in a single area. 
  • Step down criteria
  • Substantial to minimal/moderate: No active cases in a community. 
  • Minimal/moderate back to none: 28 days have passed since the last active case. 

Potential exposure: The South Dakota Department of Health will send notices when there is potential exposure at a public business in South Dakota where it’s difficult to do contact tracing.

Review the latest exposure warnings and confirmed case locations on

Contact tracing: The process of tracing and monitoring contacts of infected people to track down their exposure point. Support the quarantine of contacts.

Testing capacity: The number of tests labs could process within a 24-hour period. 

On March 26, Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said South Dakota could process nearly 800 tests in one day with the Avera, Sanford labs in Sioux Falls and the public health lab in Pierre. State health officials have said South Dakota has the capacity to test up to 3,000 people in one day and is working towards 5,000.