SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota has hit an unwanted milestone. State health officials have now confirmed more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started.

So far, the virus has infected one in every 9 people in South Dakota. The state population is listed at 885,000 People.

“I don’t think any of us thought we would get to this point where we’ve reached that number of cases,” said Avera’s Dr. David Basel.

Of those cases, some breezed through the illness with minimal impact on their health. For them it was like a cold. However, thousands of other people still have difficulty tasting or smelling. And for those termed “long haulers” mostly young people, the unpredictable virus may leave them with long-term health problems often associated with their lungs. And then, there are those who did not make it.

“My wife is a pulmonary and critical care physician,” said Basel. “She mentioned the other day she said, ‘You know, I have seen more death and suffering in the intensive care unit these past several months than I’ve seen in my 20 plus years of career combined before that.'”

That’s the thing about COVID-19: it is unpredictable and scientists are working hard to figure out why it has killed 1,513 South Dakotans, while barely impacting others who have been infected.

To give some perspective, with a 100,000 cases, you could imagine that the virus infected every other person in Sioux Falls. But there appears to be a bright spot ahead.

“If we can get enough people vaccinated, we can get back to normal; that’s the bottom line. If we can get 50, 60, 70 percent of the population vaccinated, then this goes away. If we can’t, we’re going to be sitting here next Thanksgiving asking people not to go to Thanksgiving dinner because there is still too much COVID around. It’s in the public’s hands,” Basel said.

Basel says the approval and eventual arrival of two new vaccines could help speed up vaccination efforts in February and March. AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson are both looking to get government approval for their COVID 19 vaccines.

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