COVID-19 cases rise in SD; governor asks public to 'press pause'

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN/KOTA TV) - Cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in South Dakota, with 41 confirmed as of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday; including a Monument Health worker that was revealed Tuesday evening.

West River now has two confirmed cases of COVID-19, one in Meade County. A Pennington County resident who died from the virus contracted it while in Davison County. The virus has not been identified in Pennington. (MGN)

Most of the coronavirus cases remain on the eastern side of the state. Beadle has 13 and Minnehaha County has climbed from five to 13. While 819 people have tested negative for the virus; another 268 tests have yet to be completed.

“For South Dakota, we expect this to take many, many weeks; perhaps months to run it’s course,” Gov. Kristi Noem said Wednesday morning.

The Monument Health worker lives in Meade County and is a caregiver in Rapid City. Monument did not release what facility this person worked at or the person’s profession and involvement with patients.

“We are working through protocols to inform and isolate all who have been in direct contact with this caregiver. We do know that this caregiver contracted the virus while traveling within the United States,” a Monument Health statement read. “We’re providing every available resource to the South Dakota Department of Health for this investigation.”

The Monument caregiver was also in close contact with several people connected with Ellsworth Air Force Base, prompting the military to put two families in quarantine. The families live off base. Ellsworth doesn’t have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time.

The state has “substantial” community transmission or impact of the virus in Beadle and Minnehaha counties. It is listed as minimal or moderate in Hughes, Lyman, McCook and Lincoln counties.

South Dakota still only has one COVID-19 death, a Pennington County man in his 60s who had underlying health issues. He contracted the virus while traveling and was in Davison County when he was diagnosed. Pennington still doesn’t have a confirmed COVID-19 case.

As of Wednesday morning, 13 people have already recovered from the virus.

Noem, in a departure from previous coronavirus news conferences, read a statement Wednesday morning, opting not to take any media questions.

The governor said the state is doing the best it can and that people need to take a break from the crisis. In her words – “I want to ask each and every one of you to pause; take a step back.” This comes after the governor has heard stories about people who have fears about the pandemic.

“So my message to you today is ‘please press pause’ … put down your smartphones, turn off your TVs … maybe go for a walk; visit with your families, spend some time with them; call a loved one. Just take a break,” Noem suggested.