Monument Health projects West River COVID-19 cases to triple in next two weeks

Peak expected in late June, weeks earlier than forecast

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Monument Health in Rapid City expects COVID-19 cases to nearly triple over the next two weeks, according to short-term projections run by the hospital system. Hospitalizations are expected to increase tenfold in Rapid City by late June.

As of Tuesday, there were 266 confirmed COVID-19 cases in western South Dakota. Based on data over the previous two weeks, Monument Health projects cases could grow to 776 two weeks from now.

The short-term projections are based on the time it takes to double the number of COVID-19 cases West River. According to Monument Health, that “doubling rate” is eight days, as of Wednesday. Eight days ago, the number of cases in South Dakota was 137, half of what Wednesday’s numbers show. The rate is expected to shorten as the case numbers rise.

“The actual rate could be shorter, because there are community members who are most likely positive, asymptomatic and who have not been tested,” said a Wednesday news release from Monument Health.

Short-term projections, combined with statewide data that factors in tourism and summer events in the Black Hills, gives Monument a broader look at the impact of COVID-19 in the coming months.

Long-range projections have shown that Rapid City Hospital would house 15 COVID-19 in-patients Wednesday. Instead, Monument reports 30 people are currently hospitalized, indicating the region is a week ahead of the projected peak.

Extending the data to the coming months, Monument says West River peak infections should occur in late June, instead of the previously anticipated early July. Based on the South Dakota Department of Health model, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Rapid City could peak at nearly 400 in late June.

“These projections were developed under the assumption that the community’s adherence to social distancing would be at a rate of 50 percent,” says the release. “However, it’s estimated that the community’s adherence to social distancing is likely lower – closer to 25 percent.”

Chief Medical Officer for Monument Health, Dr. Brad Archer, says results from antibody testing West River shows that the virus was not as prevalent West River in previous months as believed. Of the 2,221 antibody tests completed by Monument Health since April 20, just 21 tests have been positive.

“Monument Health is prepared for this potential surge, but it will certainly stretch capacity from both a space and staffing standpoint,” said Archer.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News