State reports 10 more COVID-19 deaths

PIERRE, S.D. (By American News Staff) – Another 609 South Dakotans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 while 10 more people have died from the virus.

That’s according to the South Dakota Department of Health’s Wednesday coronavirus data update.

Two of the deaths were in Codington County, where there have now been nine virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic. There were also two deaths in Pennington County. The others were in Beadle, Lake, Lincoln, Meade, Turner and Union counties.

Three of the deaths were people over the age of 80, four aged 70-79 and three aged 60-69. Seven were men and three were women.

There have now been 258 deaths across the state.

The number for new cases reflected in Wednesday’s update were outpaced by recoveries, of which there were 688.

People with COVID-19 were occupying 273 hospital beds in the state Wednesday, up from 250 the day prior.

In Brown County, there have been 1,415 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. That’s an increase of 35 compared to Tuesday. There were 219 active Wednesday, a decrease of six. There have been four deaths and 56 hospitalizations.

Codington County had 17 new cases Wednesday for a total of 1,031, of which 169 were active. That’s 23 fewer active cases than on Tuesday. There have been 67 people ever hospitalized.

The numbers do not reflect people who have not been tested.

South Dakota Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said despite the uptick in hospitalizations, the state’s medical bed supply remains adequate.

A total of 37 hospital facilities in South Dakota were serving COVID-19 patients, and 10 were using intensive care unit beds to treat COVID-19 patients, she said.

State adds rapid tests to daily totals

This week marked the first time the health department’s online coronavirus dashboard differentiated between “probable” and “confirmed” COVID-19 cases.

State epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said until now, the data being published on the health department’s website did not reflect rapid antigen testing, only samples sent to a lab through what’s called PCR testing, or molecular testing.

PCR tests look for COVID-19 molecules, usually done in a lab setting. Antigen tests can give more rapid results and look for pieces of proteins that make up the virus.

Wednesday’s data update incorporated multiple days worth of antigen tests that weren’t previously published.

Of the 609 new cases reported Wednesday, 562 were listed as confirmed and 47 as probable.

Malsam-Rysdon said medical providers and long-term care facilities are increasingly moving toward rapid antigen testing. And with the federal government scheduled to send 260,000 more of those tests to South Dakota before year’s end, the trend is expected to continue, she said.

“We do expect to see volume increasing dramatically around antigen testing,” she said.

While a positive antigen test shows up as a “probable” case on the state’s daily report, the distinction between probable and confirmed case designation doesn’t change how health department staff handles new cases when it begins conducting contact tracing.

“We work that probable case just like we would a case that is confirmed using the PCR platform (tests most commonly used),” Malsam-Rysdon said.

People who test positive for COVID-19 with a rapid antigen test, just like a traditional PCR test, still need to follow isolation and quarantine protocols, she said.