Noem: State’s curve continues to flatten


Gracie Terrall, Copy Editor

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced in her April 17 press briefing that South Dakota has bent its infection rate curve by 75%. Projections indicate the state went from needing 10,000 hospital beds by mid-April to only 2,500 by mid-June.

However, South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said that the reduction is not in the number of people who might experience COVID-19, but in the number of severe cases that will need hospitalization. 

Malsam-Rysdon also stated that the Department of Health is surge planning for 1,300 intensive care unit beds but is expected to only need half that amount. As of today, there have only been 24 individuals who have needed ICU beds.

A beef processing plant in Aberdeen, DemKota Ranch Beef, saw its first positive case of an employee. Malsam-Rysdon addressed concerns for mitigation efforts in large factories similar to Smithfield Foods Inc.

“When folks are in a situation where they are working side by side… we have good opportunities for social distancing and keeping people physically separate,” Malsam-Rysdon said. 

Workers need the appropriate equipment to keep them and others safe. Staggered schedules for lunch and breaks helps keep people from clustering together in larger groups. Employee screening is also being implemented in some places. 

“There’s a lot of things that can help employers keep their workforce safe,” Malsam-Rysdon said. 

According to Malsam-Rysdon, testing is being done in every county apart from one (specifics not available at the time of publication), even if there are no positive cases reported in that county. The governor wanted to stress that, although testing supplies were running low, it has gotten easier to obtain tests. 

Noem confirmed that more testing supplies have been requested.