South Dakota coronavirus cases rise to 21


Gracie Terrall, Copy Editor

Gov. Kristi Noem held a press conference Sunday, March 22 to discuss the latest coronavirus developments for South Dakota.

“I can report that we have more than 700 tests that are being processed by commercial labs today,” Noem said. 

Of the 21 cases reported in South Dakota so far,  six of those patients have fully recovered. On Saturday, March 21, 58 high priority tests were administered and 51 came back negative. Six of the positive cases occurred in Beadle County and are either related to travel or a patient has contracted it from one of the original patients. The lone positive case from Brown County was travel related. 

Currently, the age range for coronavirus patients in Beadle County ranges from 10-69 years old. 

Gov. Noem emphasizes the importance of social distancing, staggered work schedules and greater hygiene practices for everyone in South Dakota, but especially Beadle County.

“Beadle County could be in a community spread within a matter of days,” Noem said. 

Of the three tiers the CDC uses to categorize infection levels, Beadle County reached the substantial level — meaning more than four to five positive cases in a county. The rest of the state’s infection positive rates are still categorized as none. 

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon confirmed that the South Dakota Department of Health is in daily contact with healthcare providers across the state about the kind of patients they are seeing and their business practices. The Department of Health is also closely monitoring the use of hospital beds. 

“We have boots on the ground talking to people across the state on a daily basis so that we can access what is happening in South Dakota,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

Gov. Noem emphasized that, while she can make strong suggestions, she cannot mandate or enforce any businesses to close or people to isolate themselves. It is within the jurisdiction of local authorities — mayors, city council, etc — to enforce those rules upon businesses. 

According to Malsam-Rysdon, South Dakota is stocked on supplies lasting well into next week and is sending low priority cases to commercial labs outside of the state. High priority cases, like healthcare workers, that may come in contact with positive patients, are being tested at the state public health lab. 

Today, Sunday, March 22, South Dakota is running 29 tests. The results of those tests will be communicated to the public once the results are received. 

“It is incredibly pertinent that we as a state are being proactive in making wise decisions based on science, based on data and on facts,” Noem said