The importance of knowing the number of COVID-19 cases in your community

Local News

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Following a decline in tests, the Black Hills area saw a surge in new results on Wednesday.

On Monday, the five counties served by Monument Health had 112 test results posted on the state website. 32 of those tests were positive. On Tuesday, the area had 71 tests posted online. 40 were positive.

Wednesday morning, KELOLAND News reached out to Monument Health to find out why testing was down. They weren’t sure. Then just before noon, the state released the results of more than 1,700 Black Hills Tests. We reached out to the state to find out if there was an issue with reporting, but we haven’t heard back. Those test results are an important tool for the community.

For Rapid City Area Schools, paying close attention to the number of active COVID-19 cases in the area is essential.

“That allows us to keep our families safe. By knowing where those cases are, who those close contacts are, we’re able to make sure that those folks are staying home and not further spreading the virus,” Katy Urban, Rapid City Schools Communication Manager,” said.

The positivity rate is another important number.

“So you take the number of positive cases divided by the total number of tests we complete,” Emily Leech, Director of Laboratory Services for Monument Health, said.

If you look at yesterday’s numbers on the state website, you get a 56 percent positivity rate. Officials with Monument Health say that number doesn’t reflect what’s happening in the Black Hills, where they’re doing hundreds of tests everyday.

Over the last seven days in the Monument Health System, there has been an 11.3 percent positivity rate of COVID-19 test results. The Pennington County positivity rate is 17.2 percent.

Director of Lab Services Emily Leech says 100 percent of patients who show symptoms of the virus will be tested.

“Any of those asymptomatic testing, we’re partnering with the Department of Health to determine what criteria and how we are going to test and when to test so we are constantly evaluating our criteria and expanding who is appropriate for testing,” Leech said.

Leech says Monument Health lab results have an interface with the Department of Health, that way the DOH can see the number of test results easily. However, you might notice some different numbers..

“And so sometimes we have seen a lag in the data that we present to when they post their data and that could be some of the discrepancy we’re seeing right now,” Leech said.

Monument Health performed 8,500 COVID-19 tests in August. Patients from out of state who test for COVID-19 will be reported on Monument Health’s data but not the Department of Health.

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