Prevention helps keep South Dakota COVID-19 cases low

Shawn Neisteadt
Sanford Health Media Relations
605-366-2432 /

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., March 17, 2020 — The COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the United States and world.

Each person is feeling an impact in one way or another.

So far, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and state medical experts in South Dakota said the state is “in a good spot.”

Working together

Because the state and health care systems have been proactive in preparing for the novel virus, there is no community spread in South Dakota, Noem said. Three states with more dense populations are experiencing community spread as of March 17, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected, the CDC says. Learn more about how COVID-19 spreads.

“We’ve worked with health care providers, with schools, with leaders, with businesses, and communities throughout the state,” Noem said.

“Their wisdom, their advice, their medical expertise is helping the state make very good decisions. We’re prepared into the future, whatever direction the spread may go.”

Noem announced another person has tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, a woman in her 50s in Minnehaha County. That brings the state’s total to 11 people diagnosed with COVID-19.

“All the individuals that have tested positive in South Dakota are at home resting and healing up,” said Noem.

Continuing other procedures

The preventive measures taken have health systems prepared not only for COVID-19, but for any need a patient may have, according to chief medical officer Allison Suttle, M.D.

“We are sitting well in terms of our supplies and our preparedness. Every day, we’re making decisions and anticipating what the needs will be and how this will roll out over the coming days, but that hasn’t stopped our day-to-day operations,” Dr. Suttle said. “We are still functioning in all the other areas that we need, to deliver babies, take care of heart attacks, and all the other needs and things that come along.”

Schools to remain closed

A large reason South Dakota has avoided community spread, so far, is because of the preventive measures Noem and health systems have recommended.

These will stay in place in order to “flatten the curve” — or lengthen the amount of time the state sees infections instead of a spike in infections all at once, putting pressure on hospitals and clinics.

“We will not be holding school next week in the state of South Dakota,” said Noem.

“We’re going to give ourselves more time to develop out our testing in our lab capabilities to work with our health care providers, to make sure that regardless of how we go, as far as development of this virus across the state, that we’re prepared for it, and we’re ready to take care of individuals who may want to be tested, or taken care of if they do test positive.”

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, is dedicated to the integrated delivery of health care, genomic medicine, senior care and services, global clinics, research and affordable insurance. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization includes 44 hospitals, 1,400 physicians and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations in 26 states and nine countries. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford have transformed how Sanford Health improves the human condition.

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