COVID-19 models predict 30% of SD population to become infected


Jordan Rusche, Copy Editor

This April Fool’s Day was no joke as Gov. Kristi Noem held a press briefing addressing infection rates, new testing details and unemployment in South Dakota.

According to the briefing, models of the spread of infection are being utilized to measure the potential impact of COVID-19 to South Dakota. These models analyze population density, vulnerable populations, ability to respond and area resources. Using these models, it is believed that the peak infection date in South Dakota may now be pushed to August instead of May.

According to South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon, the state expects that 30% of the population will become infected; however, around 80% of that percentage will have mild symptoms that should not require hospitalization. 

Testing capabilities in the state have also increased, according to Malsam-Rysdon, and she cited a large number of negative cases coming in from commercial labs. However, the South Dakota Public Health Laboratory is still testing only high priority cases.

Malsam-Rysdon also discussed the issue of individuals with known symptoms not complying with quarantine protocols. She reported that the state works closely with these infected people and checks in on a regular basis to make sure directions are being followed.

“Fortunately… 99.9% of people comply and do the right thing, and I’m confident that for folks that aren’t doing it we have the ability to react,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

Malsam-Rysdon also confirmed that they have not yet received additional information about when the rapid ID machines used for testing will arrive.

Noem read off a statement discussing the role of both state and national governments in times of crisis regarding stricter shelter-in-place tactics from other governments.

“The people have established the national and state constitutions that place specific limits on the role of government in our lives,” Noem said. “Those limits prevent us from taking draconian measures much like the Chinese government has done.”

The governor believes South Dakota citizens should take personal responsibility and be free to make their own decisions. Noem stated that measures like those being taken in New York aren’t necessary due to our rural population and social distancing measures.

“My responsibility is to respect the rights of people and the people who elected me, to manage our state operations in a way that reflects the realities of what we have here on the ground in our state,” Noem said.

Noem also addressed the influx of unemployment claims that can overload the Department of Labor offices, and urged those applying for unemployment to consider doing so online as opposed to over the phone in order to shorten wait times. 

She detailed some changes made to the unemployment process as per new federal legislation and leniency in meeting deadlines for these unemployment applications. 

These unemployment details can be found on the website under re-employment.