SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – More South Dakotans are dealing with COVID-19 today than ever before.
There are more than 3,000 active cases in the state. The department of health confirmed 334 of those cases Thursday.
Since the pandemic started, more than 14,300 people have tested positive for the virus. As those numbers climb, South Dakotans are gearing up for a holiday weekend.
“Viruses don’t recognize holidays. They don’t recognize weekends either,” Sanford infectious disease physician Susan Hoover said.
Right now, South Dakota has the highest rate of new COVID cases in the country.
“It may seem as though we’ve gotten used to the idea of COVID and nothing is new, but we really need to be as careful as we ever were in the springtime,” Hoover said.
Usually Labor Day weekend is a time for camping, being with family and enjoying time off from work or school. But doctors say you need to celebrate responsibly this year.
“My advice for large gatherings really has not changed since Memorial Day, Fourth of July, other types of activities that have been going on throughout the state and region since COVID has come on. So I think the big thing is still maintaining social distance, if you can,” Avera family medicine physician Chad Thury said.
Doctors suggest wearing a mask and regularly washing your hands or using hand sanitizer. You might also want to consider moving this weekend’s festivities outdoors.
“Certainly more things that are outside where if you do happen to come in contact with somebody that has COVID, that viral particles can dissipate and spread more easily as opposed to being inside where that can’t happen is going to decrease the risk of obtaining COVID,” Thury said.
Both doctors say you should also be cautious about traveling during the long weekend. If you do, bring supplies to minimize stops along the way.
“Think about whether you yourself are feeling sick, maybe if you were exposed. You want to think about the people you might come in contact with. And if you’re coming from South Dakota, unfortunately, you’re coming from a high incidence area right now so you want to think about the vulnerable people that you might be exposing,” Hoover said.
Despite the pandemic, there are still large events going on this Labor Day weekend including the South Dakota State Fair and Huset’s Speedway is welcoming racers from around the country to the track.