COVID numbers are on the rise again

Omicron VariantRAPID CITY, S.D. – According to the South Dakota Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard, COVID numbers are on the rise throughout the state with Pennington County leading the way with 249 newly confirmed cases in the last week.

Statewide as of June 29 there are 3,101 active cases, up from last week’s report of 2,780 cases, which is at its highest level since March. That total does not include at-home positive test results, which are not required to be reported to the state. Of the state’s 66 counties, 56 are listed as having “high” or “substantial” community spread. The state’s total case count is now at 244,523, up from last week’s 243,269.

“We are having an outbreak right now, and the numbers indicate that we need to take the right precautions. Go get vaccinated to save lives, South Dakota,” said Dr. Shankar Kurra, Monument Health Vice President of Medical Affairs. “We are still in the pandemic. What we need to do is continue to have people understand the importance of vaccinating, importance of wearing masks in close, crowded spaces.”

“The current Omicron wave is playing out just like it did in South Africa. We actually have two separate waves. The first one is the BA.1, the original Omicron. What we’re seeing now across the country and this region as well is BA.4, BA.5. So these two sub-variants that are at the same time rising and that is the explanation for the increased cases,” said Dr. Kurra.

There have been 1,720 Delta variant cases detected in South Dakota through sentinel monitoring. There have been 176 cases of the B.1.1.7 (Alpha variant), 4 cases of P.1. (Gamma variant), and 2 cases of the B.1.351 (Beta variant).

Dr. Kurra said that the new variants are very good at infecting the lungs versus just the upper nose and throat.

“If you’re having symptoms, please get the home test. And our advice would be to test if you have symptoms, and isolate if you’re positive in the home test. You don’t have to confirm that with another test unless you’re having increasing symptoms. Then you need to come to the hospital but definitely home test if you’re having symptoms and if you turn positive, please take that as pretty much a strong confirmation of COVID-19,” he said.

Monument Health advises containment measures to prevent new variants and to stop these sub-variants from continuing to spread – masking in crowds and in poorly ventilated spaces, getting vaccinated or boostered, and if you test positive isolate for ten days.

The South Dakota Department of Health reports that 74 percent of the population ages five and older have been vaccinated. Monument Health is now offering vaccines for children under the age of five.

More: COVID-19 vaccines now available for ages under five

“So the FDA is cleared and approved. So has the CDC for ages six months to four years. So in other words, your toddlers and newborns, your preschoolers can get the COVID vaccines,” said Dr. Kurra. “It’s very important to protect these vulnerable toddlers, preschoolers from getting COVID-19.”

You can schedule a vaccine or a test online on the Monument Health website.


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