PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem said according to the state’s data, peak infection of COVID-19 will hit South Dakota in late May or early June.
Noem made the statement during a press conference Friday, March 27 in Pierre.
“What we are doing is working,” Noem said. “I’ll be honest, I anticipated we would have a lot more people testing positive for COVID-19 at this point if you were to ask me a couple weeks ago.”
Noem said that there will be times where the state won’t be able to provide the public with the test results like they’ve been able to thus far due to the expected influx of tests and potential cases.
The testing workload, she said, will strain the state’s testing capabilities.
There are 58 positive COVID-19 cases in South Dakota, up 12 from Thursday, according to the South Dakota Department of Health.
A total of 21 people have recovered from the virus, according to state data, which is an improvement from Thursday’s 16 total recoveries.
Minnehaha has 18 positive cases, which is the most in the state, followed by Beadle County, which has 16 positive cases.
Noem said that the state has 2,397 negative cases, which she said is encouraging.
The state currently has 2,300 hospital beds, but those beds are equipped to handle different situations, Noem explained.
Noem said there are already efforts and plans to increase the number of beds available in the state by working with various healthcare entities.
“We’re working on storage capacity. We know we’ll have a peak infection rate in the future and we’re making sure we’ll have the beds and staff and equipment available to people so they can receive care.,” Noem said.
“We’re continually updating our models, projecting into the future.”
Noem said the National Guard has been involved with planning for months now and has been planning for the potential need to construct hospitals to care for people in the future.
“We have medical personnel that are all a part of the National Guard. They are more than likely serving in their communities as well,” Noem said, adding that she would like to avoid taking critical medical personnel away from their communities they are already serving in South Dakota.
Kim Malsam-Rysdon, the state’s Secretary of the Department of Health, said that South Dakota did receive a second allocation of medical supplies from the national stockpile on Thursday, March 26.
That allocation provided the state with more face shields and gowns, Malsam-Rysdon said.
Malsam-Rysdon said that more requests are pending with FEMA.
“We’re hopeful we’ll get some relief from them,” Malsam-Rysdon added.
When asked whether the state is receiving case reports from tribal lands, Malsam-Rysdon said that any positive test, regardless of where that test is processed, must be reported back to the state Department of Health.
The state is also planning for a virtual veto day on March 30 and plan to have many lawmakers who aren’t feeling well or have preexisting conditions that put them at risk for infection stay home rather than attend the Capitol Building in person. Those that stay home will work remotely from their homes.
Health screenings will be done at the door of the capitol building to help ensure that anyone who may be carrying the virus won’t be able to enter the building.
Noem said she has prepared several bills to better respond to the virus and help the state going forward that she plans to reveal on Monday. Noem said that all the bills will have a sunset clause and emergency clause, which means they won’t last forever and will be effective as soon as she signs them into law, if they pass through the state legislature.
“I think that is the right decision I have made since we are doing this remotely and legislators are voting remotely, they’re temporary to allow us to respond to the virus then they will go away,” Noem said.
Noem did not provide any more additional information on what the bills entail, but noted that they will help provide school districts with funding to help them be more flexible.
Noem said that she will sign bills for the 2021 budget, but noted that she’s not going to spend that money.
“We’ll probably come back in June and make some changes which are already pretty significant,” Noem said.
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