Governor Noem says COVID-19 peak dates are changing


PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) – The number of positive COVID-19 cases has surpassed 1,100 in South Dakota. This comes as the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls becomes the number one hotspot in the country.

Wednesday morning, the health department confirmed 80 more Smithfield employees tested positive for coronavirus. 126 additional cases are also linked to those employees. That brings the total to 644 cases connected to the plant.

That’s compared to the nearly 1,000 cases in the Sioux Falls area.

Governor Kristi Noem says CDC officials are in Sioux Falls to take a look at the Smithfield Foods facility.

“They will tour the plant tomorrow (Thursday), and will do that with state and local officials,” Governor Kristi Noem said.

Secretary of Health, Kim Malsam-Rysdon says there is also quicker testing coming to several cities. The state will send machines to eight health care sites, including two in Sioux Falls.

“We will be deploying testing supplies for an additional 720 tests, and the folks that will be getting these machines will be working to be getting additional testing supplies, but this will really help get more testing out there, we know that the more testing we can do, we can identify people that are positive and have them quarantine,” Secretary of Health, Kim Malsam-Rysdon said.

Governor Noem says data shows the state is bending the curve, but peak dates appear to be changing.

“It looks like the peak date in Sioux Falls will likely be in the middle of May, and that is a couple weeks earlier than we had originally predicted,” Noem said.

The rest of the state is expected to peak in mid-June. She believes hospitals will be able to handle the peak, but wants to plan for the higher end of cases.

“I’m still going to plan on needing 5,000 hospital beds like I originally told you, I am still going to plan for having 1,300 vents in the state of South Dakota because I want us to have all the capacity in the world to take care of individuals and be over-prepared,” Noem said.

Health officials also say an inmate at the State penitentiary tested positive for COVID 19. Authorities say he was brought to the prison over the weekend, is in isolation and hasn’t had contact with any other inmates.

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