South Dakota sees downward trend for COVID cases
RAPID CITY, S.D. — In a turn of events, COVID numbers across South Dakota are on a downward trend.
After weeks of having the highest number of cases per capita in the country, COVID cases across South Dakota are on a downward trend. Numbers of COVID patients at Monument Health are down by about 50 percent, and despite many people’s aversion to masks, they have helped.
“The mask mandate, the debate actually helped a lot of folks to adopt masking,” said Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dr. Shankar Kurra. “I think that blunted some of that, but the real reason is the same folks that are going around becoming a part of this spread, once they’re saturated, those numbers start trending down.”
Despite numbers trending downward, Dr. Kurra says there is still a danger that the numbers can increase. He says that around 10 percent of South Dakota’s population has been infected, leaving 90 percent susceptible.
Although he believes people being aware of the benefits of mask wear and safety precautions has helped keep numbers down, the holidays could bring more than just gifts.
“The real danger is Christmas, maybe there was a lot of mingling going on, and unfortunately that takes about five to seven days before you develop symptoms, and that’s exactly around New Years Eve,” said Dr. Kurra. “So we need to be cautious through New Years and not mingle through New Years Eve and New Years Day, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Currently healthcare workers are just hoping that the trend continues, and even with the vaccine, want people to continue to take COVID seriously.
“I think the trend will hold, that’s for sure,” said Dr. Kurra. “The question is will we have a minor wave or a large wave, if people don’t follow the same things. So the final takeaway is continue to wear the mask, wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t gather in crowds, avoid close spaces.”
Vaccines have started arriving in the Black Hills and across the state, but they will not have a major impact until at least 75 percent of the population have received the vaccine…likely next spring.