One more coronavirus death reported in South Dakota, 77 new cases

PIERRE, S.D. (By Lisa Kaczke, Sioux Falls Argus Leader) – One more person has died of the coronavirus in South Dakota, and the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state increased by 77, the South Dakota Department of Health announced on Friday.

South Dakota now has a total of 74 COVID-19 deaths.

The Minnehaha County man who died of the coronavirus was in his 60s, according to the state health department.

South Dakota has had a total of 5,742 COVID-19 cases as of Friday, according to the state health department. That doesn’t include people who show symptoms or are asymptomatic but are not tested. A total of 1,261 test results were reported on Friday and the positive rate for coronavirus tests on Friday was 6.1%.

The state has 913 active COVID-19 cases, according to the state health department. Recoveries statewide increased to 4,755. The state health department says 525 total people have been hospitalized during the pandemic, and 87 are currently hospitalized.

Coronavirus patients are occupying 3% of staffed hospital beds in the state while 47% of hospital beds are available, according to the state health department. Coronavirus patients are occupying 4% of intensive care unit beds, and 35% of ICU beds are available. Five percent of ventilators are being used by coronavirus patients while 78% of the state’s ventilator capacity is available.

The state is receiving shipments of the antiviral drug remdesivir and has supplied it to the three major health care systems in the state, as well as the Watertown hospital. The drug has shown promise in slowing the coronavirus’ progress in patients who are severely ill, but there isn’t data yet from South Dakota health care systems on its effectiveness for patients, Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said.

Coronavirus clusters

More recent coronavirus clusters at meat processing plants in South Dakota haven’t been as severe as the first one that appeared in the state at Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls. Federal guidelines for limiting the spread at those facilities didn’t exist when the Smithfield cluster began compared to now when there’s specific guidance, state epidemiologist Josh Clayton said. The state also offers on-site assessments, discussions to limit risk of transmission and mass testing events at the facilities, he said.

“We know that the situation on the ground for those meat processing facilities is different, that they have better guidance,” he said.

Malsam-Rysdon added that the state has seen “tremendous leadership” at the plants, which is making a difference.

At DemKota Ranch Beef in Aberdeen, 158 of 165 cases have recovered. Seventy-eight of the 114 cases at Jack Link’s in Alpena and 30 of the 63 cases at Dakota Provisions in Huron have recovered. Of the 853 cases that occurred among Smithfield Foods employees before it temporarily shutdown in April, 849 employees have recovered, according to Clayton.

Fifty-nine of 7,502 nursing home and assisted living residents have tested positive and 31 of 9,680 staff have tested positive in the state’s mass testing, according to Malsam-Rysdon. The positive rate for the nursing home and assisted living mass testing is 0.4%.

The positive tests resulting from the mass testing are reported in the state’s daily coronavirus numbers. The state’s positive rate has creeped up in recent days and Malsam-Rysdon said that wasn’t unexpected as they finished the first phase of testing at long-term care facilities.

The case numbers for the cluster at the Avantara Arrowhead nursing home in Rapid City were nine staff and 21 residents as of Friday, according to Malsam-Rysdon.

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