COVID-19 hospitalizations hit low as two more deaths reported

PIERRE, S.D. (By Jonathon Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader) – Hospitalized COVID-19 patients in South Dakota dropped to the lowest level since April while two more people died of the disease, the South Dakota Department of Health reported Thursday.

The state reported 66 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total positive count since the pandemic started to 8,143. The new cases were based on 1,478 new tests, for a daily positive rate of 4.5%. The two additional deaths brought the total to 121.

Those deaths were reported in Pennington and Lake counties. One was a man and the other was a woman. Both were 80 or older.

Only 50 people were reported hospitalized as of Thursday. The state hit a high of 106 hospitalizations on May 26. The 50 people represented just 2% of the state’s total hospital beds and 4% of intensive care unit beds.

Of the new cases on Thursday, 13 were in Minnehaha County and nine in Lincoln County. Pennington County also saw nine cases.

In northeastern South Dakota, Brown County added two new cases, and Potter, Codington, Deuel and Grant each added one. This is Potter County’s first positive case.

The state reported 55 additional recoveries, leaving 808 active cases. State epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said Thursday that the CDC has changed the parameters for defining how some patients recovered from the disease.

For most patients, the CDC identifies a recovered patient being 10 days from the onset of symptoms, combined with 24 hours after a fever has lifted and symptoms have improved. But for the small number who suffer serious illness, Clayton said, the CDC has extended that 10-day recovery to 20 days.

Clayton also said Thursday that the state plans to update the data dashboard next week to display additional information about how the pandemic is playing out in South Dakota.

“More, good, interesting stuff to come,” he said during a semi-weekly call with reporters.

Since July 1, the state has added 1,317 new cases. The majority of those (753) have been reported in people under age 40.