RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Western South Dakota hospitals are helping more COVID-19 patients than ever before. Monument health is also experiencing a surge of tests. It’s gotten so busy that 9 National Guard have been called in to help.

In the last few weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased drastically. That’s why Monument Health officials felt extra help was necessary.

“So right now we are doing four tests every 15 minutes and yes it has been busy. We have 170 tests today so it gets pretty busy out here,” Andre CrowEagle, National Guard Member, said.

Here at the Rapid City testing site, with help from the National Guard, Monument Health is able to test 175 patients versus 75 in a day.

“A lot of people have felt grateful for us to come out and help. Which has been great for us,” CrowEagle said.

Director of Laboratory Services Emily Leech says within the last seven days there has been a 29 percent positivity rate.

“In July we started seeing a steady increase in testing volumes. After the Sturgis Rally though we’ve seen a significant spike in symptomatic cases and people coming in for additional testing,” Leech said.

A month ago, Monument Health had fewer than ten hospitalized COVID-19 patients. At the beginning of this week, the number had increased to 110. Today the state is reporting 115 patients.

As doctors and nurses respond to the added workload, Leech says guard members will help the Monument Health health centers for the next four to five weeks.

“So we would really like to see positivity rates below 5 percent. That is the goal so we are not in community spread,” Leech said.

At all of the different Monument Health testing sites throughout the Black Hills, 400 to 500 people are able to receive COVID-19 tests in a day with help from the South Dakota National Guard.