HURON — Governor Noem held a mid-day press conference Sunday to announce that the state completed 58 COVID-19 tests Saturday, with 51 coming back negative.
Of the seven positive results, six were from Beadle County. The six positive tests were identified as a male aged between 60-69, a female between 50-59, a male between 20-29, a female between 20-29, a male between 10-19, and a female between 10-19. The seventh individual was from Brown County. All were travel-related and/or due to direct interaction with someone who had previously tested positive.
Gov. Noem stated that while the seven additional tests does alter the state’s overall number by changing from 14 to 21, the biggest concern is that there is now termed a “substantial” risk in Beadle County. She stated that she had spoken already with the Huron mayor and county leaders to discuss plans.
From her office, the governor requested that Beadle County specifically attempt to telework wherever possible, stagger work schedules to avoid employees being in one location all at the same time, discontinue any non-essential travel within the county, and to go “above and beyond” with social distancing. She stopped short of calling any of the new cases in Beadle County “community spread” cases, but she did state that the county is on the precipice of the designation.
Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon stated that her office and the Governor’s office have been in contact with health providers every day, monitoring hospital bed use. She stated that state declarations and restrictions would be based on information found in that contact.
Gov. Noem was asked about her office putting forth restrictions for the state, such as ordering bars and restaurants closed as other states had done. She stated that she has looked into the legalities of such orders, and that her office can make public proclamations, but she has no ability to enforce such actions. That enforcement would lie in local communities, so she is leaving decisions on shelter-in-place instructions to communities in the state at this time.
Noem stated that South Dakota is “in this for several weeks yet.” She also mentioned that her office’s decisions would be made based on “based on science, data, and facts,” not based on what other states or other countries have done.
The state will be testing 29 more tests today at the state laboratory and there are currently 700 tests pending at private labs that are outside the state. Both Noem and Secretary Malsam-Rysdon emphasized that negative tests from private laboratories do not get reported into the negative numbers for the state, so the ratio of positive to negative cases is actually significantly different.
While the outlook is positive state-wide with the announcement of six previously positive COVID-19 patients now fully recovered and many positive results from around the state, Gov. Noem had one final closing statement for local residents:
“That means for Beadle County - don’t go out!”