SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Two health care systems leaders are asking for help from the public during what they call the largest surge of COVID-19 in South Dakota. 

On Thursday, the state reported a record high number of active COVID-19 cases at 34,086; that is higher than the population of the state’s third largest city, which is Aberdeen where 28,495 people live.

During a news conference on Thursday, Dr. David Basel, Vice President of Clinical Quality at Avera Medical Group, and Dr. Mike Wilde, Vice President Medical Officer at Sanford Health, said Omicron has elevated the pandemic to a new level in Sioux Falls.

The latest seven-day PCR test positivity rate for the state is 40.9% for Jan. 12 – 18. Basel says at Avera, they are seeing positivity rates from tests in the upper 30s.

While Omicron is a bit less severe, Basel says the sky-high case numbers are straining the health care system. More than 200 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the Avera system. Both he and Wilde say that forcing health care workers to make harder and harder choices when it comes to treating patients.

Wilde says it is an urgent situation for the health care system, which is why they are asking for help to slow the spread.

First, they ask people to get the COVID-19 vaccination along with the booster. If you aren’t feeling well, stay home to keep from spreading any illness and get tested for COVID-19. Wilde says home tests are becoming more available in communities. If you test positive on a home test, you should isolate and follow CDC guidelines.

Both doctors also asked that people continue with other mitigation efforts including social distancing and masking.