Noem: South Dakota will be ready when COVID-19 peaks

Published: Apr. 7, 2020 at 2:22 PM CDT
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Time to prepare for the pending peak of COVID-19 is running short but South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is confident the state will be ready.

The state estimates that 5,000 additional hospital beds and 1,300 ventilators will be needed when COVID-19 peaks in South Dakota, sometime in May to mid-June.

"We are planning to reach that capacity in plenty of time before then," the governor said. "And I'm incredibly confident in the ability of our National Guard to help us get there."

The South Dakota National Guard was tasked with finding locations in Sioux Falls and Rapid City for temporary 100-bed hospitals. The governor says site location analysis is currently under way and the state will continue to add infrastructure and staff and equipment as necessary.

"We are looking at alternative sites and adding more capacity to our healthcare systems. We do have a plan in place that all of the healthcare systems have agreed to; that is workable and that we can achieve in time to add the capacity that we would need to take care of the people of South Dakota."

The guard hospitals are just part of the overall plan to boost the number of beds for coronavirus victims. Area hospitals are also involved.

"The hospitals across the state are working with us to identify additional sites where we can stand up additional beds that we're going to need," Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon added.

The governor stressed that the need could be less that what is currently estimated.

"The more mitigation measures we put in lowers what we need but we're still going to over plan and over prepare. We want to make sure we have the capacity to take care of South Dakotans. We will be ready," Noem said.