South Dakota’s ‘flattened curve’ is based on need for hospitalization


PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A day after President Donald Trump outlined a plan to reopen the economy for state’s across the country, South Dakota’s top elected official says the state is already in Phase One.

Gov. Kristi Noem says South Dakota never closed due to COVID-19, so it’s at a different place than many states.

She says South Dakotans’ focus on social distancing has helped bend the COVID-19 curve by 75%, so she’s thanking everyone for following those guidelines.

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon says the “curve flattening” the state discusses is not about reducing the number of people who get COVID-19, but reducing the number of hospital beds that will be needed. The state has gone from projecting a need of 10,000 hospital beds to 2,500 beds in the middle of June, but it is still preparing 5,000 beds.

From state of South Dakota as of April 15

The state attributes the change in South Dakota’s curve to change in models, impact of change in behavior and increased testing across the state.

Malsam-Rysdon said 24 of the state’s 63 total hospitalizations have needed ICU beds so far. She believes the state estimates a total need of 650 ICU beds with the state having currently around “250ish” ICU beds. The state will continue to monitor ICU bed capacity.

People who feel sick are instructed to call your doctor first; do not seek care before making that call first. Noem says downloading the Care19 app would help with contact tracing if you should test positive for COVID-19.

The Department of Health is investigating a positive COVID-19 case at a beef plant in Aberdeen. South Dakota health officials say a worker at an Aberdeen beef plant has tested positive for COVID-19.  It’s one of two new cases in Brown County.

Demkota Ranch Beef remains open.

Malsam-Rysdon said food plants are working to social distance and use protective equipment to stop the spread. She said staggered schedules and employee screening are among the tools they can use.

Meanwhile, a team from the Centers for Disease Control has completed a tour of a facility with hundreds of COVID-19 cases connected to it in South Dakota.

The CDC team came to Sioux Falls to tour the Smithfield Foods plant earlier this week; as of Friday, there are 777 positive cases in employees and their contacts. That number breaks down into 634 employees and 143 close contacts.

Gov. Kristi Noem says the next step will be to review a report from the CDC. Noem says that will be put together over the weekend; she expects the report will be made public next week.

Of the recommendations already suggested, Noem said Smithfield was already starting to put those into place in the plant.

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