RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — ICU beds at Monument Health Hospital in Rapid City and in neighboring towns are full as the number of COVID-19 cases are rising. This is causing concern for health care officials in western South Dakota.

Now more than ever, Dr. Shankar Kurra with Monument Health says the hospital needs your help.

“Please go get the vaccination that is the right thing to do. You can make a difference in the lives of your fellow South Dakotans,” Kurra said.

Over 90 percent of the ICU COVID-19 patients here at Monument Health are unvaccinated.

Dr. Kurra says the ICU has about 39 beds. They recently added nine more to care for the increase in patients. Right now, 27 ICU patients are battling COVID-19.

“So you can see all of that is putting a lot of stress on the hospital, the health system because we have to be able to do this for the foreseeable future given the rising community-wide cases,” Kurra said.

From July to August, Monument has seen a 197 percent increase in testing. With the help of the National Guard, in just the first two weeks of this month, more than 7,000 tests were given. The most recent positivity rate was nearly 22 percent.

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

Dr. Kurra says he expects the ICU to be full for the next few weeks. In addition to the vaccine, he’s urging everyone to wear a mask, social distance and wash their hands.

“You can do your bit to slow the spread which is what we’ve been saying flatten the curve, help the health system,” Kurra said.

Nine members of the South Dakota National Guard were deployed earlier this month to help with COVID-19 testing. They will be in the Black Hills until the end of the month, if not longer.