HURON — In what was announced as the final press briefing of the pandemic, save a potential outbreak, the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday answered a host of questions regarding the course of the past 15 months and the road ahead.
In opening statements, state epidemiologist Dr. Josh Clayton discussed the data quality cleanup that has been ongoing since late May.
This has resulted in the removal of nearly 8.5% of the state’s previously identified COVID-hospitalized individuals.
In his clarification, Clayton explained that every person identified with those numbers was in the hospital with COVID-19.
What the DOH wanted to clarify was the root cause of the hospitalization, and whether the patient was in the hospital due to COVID or was in the hospital for other reasons while positive due to COVID-19.
While positive numbers and death numbers have been able to be checked and re-checked along the way for accuracy, Clayton noted that hospitalizations have been something the department waited to data check until the pandemic had “slowed.”
DOH secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon was asked what she believed went well through the pandemic, and she was quick to respond with praise to many throughout the state.
“Presenting information went well,” the secretary began. “State residents then responded to that information well. We also had an incredible partnership with our health care community in the state throughout.”
Dr. Clayton echoed Malsam-Rysdon and added, “Making data both transparent and available for residents was key for preparation, not panic, within the state.”
Both Clayton and Malsam-Rysdon were quick to say that while the pandemic is not done, it is notably slowing in the state, and credit goes to the health care community for quickly putting “shots in arms” across the state.
There is more to be done, however.
“We know that the summer would be a more calm time, as it was last summer,” Clayton observed. “To avoid any potential outbreak as seen last fall, continuing vaccination is the way to ensure the state avoids outbreaks as the seasons change next fall. 70% is definitely achievable by the fall.”
Clayton discussed that one of the challenges is ensuring that truth about the vaccines is placed more prominently and circulated more widely than misinformation and disinformation.
He gave the example of the recent story regarding myocarditis in young men taking the vaccine.
While this has been an observed side effect, it has occurred in nine persons per million that received the vaccine, so the occurrence is extremely rare.
Proper education of the likelihood of side effects is vital, Malsam-Rysdon echoed.
The state has now administered 676,978 doses of vaccine to 361,803 persons, per DOH’s Thursday numbers.
That translates to 56% of the state receiving at least one dose of vaccine and 51.4% of the state now fully vaccinated.
In Beadle County, the county has seen 14,018 doses administered to 7,499 people. The totals translate to 50% of the county now having received one dose, and 43.5% of the county fully vaccinated.
Over Wednesday and Thursday, the state added 16 new positive cases, one death, and 36 new recovered cases, according to the DOH reports. That lowered the active cases in the state to 165.
Beadle County recorded no new positive cases, but noted new recovered cases, dropping the county’s active caseload to two.
The Heartland Region saw multiple counties drop active cases in Wednesday’s DOH numbers, showing just five active cases among the seven counties in the region through Thursday’s DOH report.