RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Nearly 2 out of 5 COVID-19 tests are coming back positive in western South Dakota. In response, Monument Health is expanding testing.
The Monument Health Hospital here in Rapid City has been at full capacity since late August of last year. And with the recent increase of the Omicron Variant cases, health officials are concerned.
“That is really impacting the caregivers. Their mental health but also their physical well-being,” Dr. Shankar Kurra, VP of Medical Affairs, said.
With the new variant more testing is needed.
Hospitals officials are hoping this drive-thru clinic helps meet the need and drives down the positivity rate.
Right now it’s at 38 percent.
“That is very high, we have never been anywhere near that number and you can see statewide as well. The new test site is able to absorb those additional numbers that are seeking testing,” Dr. Kurra said.
“Anytime we have high positivity rates that means there is community spread and so we really need to do our due diligence to make sure that we are testing, staying safe and quarantining if we have symptoms and are positive,” Emily Leech, Dir. of Lab Services, said.
With help from the National Guard, the clinic is able to process nearly 200 tests a day.
“With the Omicron and this month we are on track to see an 81 percent increase in testing volumes. We anticipate that we will do over 18 to 20-thousand COVID tests this month. Which will be the highest month of testing volume since the pandemic started,” Leech said.
With the recent surge in cases, health officials urge everyone to mask up, social distance, and get vaccinated.
In the Monument Health System there are 60 COVID-19 hospitalized patients. With the majority unvaccinated. The hospital is at full capacity with about 250 to 270 inpatients each day.