BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota is seeing another wave of high COVID-19 across the state.
This time the high number of COVID-19 cases are caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant, which makes up about 95% of the cases in Brookings.
The number of COVID-19 cases right now is the highest it’s ever been in Brookings.
“Thankfully from the beginning most cases can be mild, but we certainly, with how contagious as it is we have more people at once with it. So we are still having a lot of people get very sick and having to be in the hospital,” said Dr. Andrew Ellsworth, Access Health and Avera Medical Group.
Even though vaccines help to decrease a patient’s chances of being hospitalized, the high number of cases is still worries doctors.
“It’s concerning because its really put a strain on our health care system and our nurses and doctors and the health care team. So many times there’s some people out that are sick, for COVID-19 or other reasons, like influenza or another virus, and with the numbers as high as they have been for so long now, it’s really put a stain on people who have to work all the time and fill in extra shifts,” said Ellsworth.
Sometimes treating the patients at a smaller hospital, like Brookings is a concern.
“There’s oftentimes where we have someone in the hospital that if they become more seriously ill with COVID-19, or something else, sometimes we would like to get them to a larger hospital and sometimes that’s not possible right away because there isn’t always a bed available and sometimes you have to call around to different hospitals or even different states and or wait a few days,” said Ellsworth.
Brookings has seen an increase in people getting tested, both at home and at the clinic.
“The at home test kits are very reliable, if you do take one of those, you can trust those results, you don’t need to come in and verify your results. Come in if you need to be seen is our recommendation. Otherwise just stay home, wait out your quarantine, and just stay safe that way,” said Nate Schaefer, clinic manager Access Health and Avera Medical Group
If you need a COVID-19 test in Brookings, you can find them at local retailers, pharmacies, and they will soon be available at the access health clinic. You can also get them online through Avera.
The South Dakota Department of Health is still offering mail-in vault tests. All you need to do is go online to sign up and you can get one sent to your home for free.