Nine months in, and what do we know?


The first death from COVID-19 in South Dakota was reported on March 10, which is just more than nine months ago now.

Do we really KNOW anything more about the virus now than we did then?

If you listen to many, the answer is no. Pointing out all the moments when someone in a position of authority with the CDC, WHO, or even the state’s Department of Health changed an answer on a novel virus from the time it was first on the radar in January/February to now has become a sport to many.

Think about that. When you first dated your eventual spouse, you likely had dated someone before, but you’d never reached the point of making commitments and figuring out the intricacies of living together. We’ve all laughed at a young couple who talks about how they’ll never fight and always take turns with household chores and….

Just as experience in a long-term relationship will teach expectations and best responses for a whole host of situations that you couldn’t have prepared for beforehand, experience with the virus has taught us plenty.

Many of those defiant of the danger of COVID-19 point to the overall death rate. Deaths are not the only outcome of concern with this virus. Many experience long-term effects well after being considered “recovered” from COVID-19.

I can attest to this personally.

On my 40th birthday last year, I walked into the Nordby Center, laid down on the bench press under 305 pounds and pushed it up one time, just to show myself that I still could do it.

I’ve not been an avid lifter the last few years, but when I’ve done any lifting, I’ve had no strength drop-offs - until I got COVID in October.

I spent roughly 48 hours with the most intense muscle pain that I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’d been through unbearable college football workouts that never left my body in the pain that I was in during that time.

Two weeks ago, I went back to the Nordby to get back into the weight room as I was a month recovered from COVID and wanted to work to regain my health.

I barely could put up 185 pounds on the bench press as my muscles simply would not do it. I dropped the weight down to 135 pounds. I struggled with the 10th repetition. I typically did my sets of 10 repetitions with 185 and then 225 as I worked back into shape after time away from lifting, but muscles simply weren’t there after COVID.

I’m still not able to use my full lung capacity, either. This is the time of year that I’d previously be preparing a big song for a holiday church service, but beyond safety issues of church gatherings at the moment, I simply don’t have the lung capacity back to sing a big performance piece more than a month after being recovered from COVID.

When the city and county chose to put together mask resolutions, there were those upset on both sides - those who thought masks did not do anything and the resolutions were a farce, and those who were upset that the resolution didn’t go far enough as there were no fines or punishments involved for not adhering to the resolution.

While I’ll not jump to either side in that debate, I’ll stick to what I’ve reported since that fateful day in March, which also happened to be the day we were informed of the first Beadle County case, which would become public knowledge March 11.

Numbers.

Numbers are what you see reported every day. Folks can disagree on the headlines associated with the numbers, but the numbers are what is reported, presented in the same way every day so there isn’t the opportunity for someone to say that a set of numbers is being excluded. The same numbers in the piece on the front page of today’s paper are the numbers that are posted to the website and social media every single day for every county the Plainsman covers.

Everything is public and has been since the very beginning. Heck, I’ve got a spreadsheet for every county the paper covers dating back to the first reported numbers for each county if anyone really wants to get into number details!

The numbers on the mask resolutions are plain and straight forward. For the six weeks prior to the mask resolutions, the county averaged 26 new positive cases per day and saw active cases rise from 86 to 564 active cases in the county. Beadle had lost 12 residents to the virus in those six weeks.

Sadly, the death totals kept adding as previously infected persons passed after the mask resolutions were passed, leading to 10 more deaths of Beadle County residents since the resolutions. However, the straight numbers say that 20 new positive cases per day have been recorded and the active cases in the county have dropped from 564 to 373. The positive cases per day in the month of December alone are even more notable, dropping to less than 13 positive cases per day, half of the rate seen before the mask resolutions.

Are mask resolutions infallible? No, and that’s not the argument here.

We don’t know a lot about the virus right now, nine months after it began ravaging our county, but it seems prudent to follow what we have seen work and continue positive efforts in those directions.

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