SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls City Council got an update on Tuesday on COVID-19 in the community from Sanford and Avera Health leaders in addition to the city’s public health director.
A message at the top of a slide summarizes the message the three doctors delivered to the council: “We can beat COVID-19 through vaccination but we need to do more.”
“Yes, there are breakthrough cases; the vaccine is not perfect,” said Dr. Mike Elliot, chief medical officer with Avera McKennan Hospital. “But it is really, really good at preventing severe disease. I shudder to think where we’d be at without the vaccine.”
If you consider the most recent two weeks in the Sioux Falls area, hospitalizations are trending downward.
“Overall, hospitalizations and cases higher today than they were three months ago, but in the last two weeks, we’re beginning to see hospitalizations drop even though cases continue to rise,” said Dr. Charles Chima, public health director with the City of Sioux Falls.
“Most mornings at Avera McKennan we are between 98 and 100% full capacity,” Elliot said. “Our adult ICU is somewhere between 95 and 100% capacity. Our pediatric ICU is at or beyond what we’ve typically considered ‘at capacity.'”
Elliot says that’s not just because of COVID. Just over half of the Sioux Falls area population is fully vaccinated.
“The amount of virus that you’re shedding is markedly less if you’re vaccinated,” said Dr. Mike Wilde, vice president medical officer at Sanford USD Medical Center. “So if you are at that football game and, or band competition or wherever, which is really exciting, that’s great, and that’s what we want people doing, know that if you’re vaccinated, your likelihood of transmission is much lower than anyone who is not vaccinated.”
“I don’t think we’re so worried, so afraid about just exposures,” Chima said. “What we’re worried about is severe outcomes from the disease.”
These three experts stressed a common theme.
“I just have to reemphasize how important it is that we all get vaccinated,” Elliot said.
“We know that COVID is going to be here, but we also know it can be at a much lower level, and so really want to encourage the safety, the effectiveness of the vaccine,” Wilde said.
“I think the message today is really to point out that the way we get out of this pandemic is through vaccinations,” Chima said.