PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem isn't taking any chances, as she is extending South Dakota's "State of Emergency" declaration regarding COVID-19 through Dec. 30.
"I do hereby declare that a state of emergency continues to exist in all counties in the state of South Dakota, and I direct the plans and procedures of the State of Emergency Operations Plan continue to be implemented," Noem's Tuesday executive order states.
Meanwhile, there was a new kind of announcement along with the rest of the updated information in the regular South Dakota Department of Health teleconference, May 26. There were no new deaths and 67 new COVID-19 cases across the state, state head Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said.
There were 1,688 new negative test results returned, “reflecting a larger number of negative testing results from the mass testing events we’ve seen over the past week,” he said.
There were no updates to the community impact map, while Stanley remained at one active case while Hughes County has moved down to five active cases, the state’s website updated Tuesday said.
In South Dakota, there are 106 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, while 50 people have died.
The counties with new cases included one in each of Coddington, Davison, Grant, Hutchinson, Jackson and Jerauld counties; Two in Todd County; three in Lincoln County; six in Pennington County; seven in Union County; 10 in Brown County; 15 in Minnehaha County; and 18 more in Beadle County, state officials said.
The state’s model for a peak of infections and infection rates is projected to start in mid-to-late-June and has two parts to take into consideration when applying it.
Numbers are reported daily across some counties growing by exponential bounds, but in 16 counties, there are currently still no cases listed at all, according to the state’s COVID-19 website.
“The one thing that we do know is that as we’re nearing that time in mid to latter part of June, the expectation is that, and the way this is playing out, is that not all counties experience the same rise in cases at the exactly the same time,” Clayton said.
Moving forward, state officials will modify their focus. While they were originally prepared to have 5,000 beds ready, that has already changed too, Clayton said. Officials will continue to work with the health care providers across the state to make sure they won’t need those extra beds.
"We do have a number of individuals who have been retested, either because they were part of routine care or they had new or worsening onset of COVID-19 like symptoms,” Clayton said.
Even with the mass testing events South Dakota, it is only 27th of 52 regions including 50 states, Puerto Rico and District of Columbia in testing per 100,000, according Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.
Stuck between Oklahoma, above and roll tide (Alabama) a rung below on Hopkins' list, South Dakota’s death rate is still considerably lower than most other regions.
Clayton did not have a specific number related to those individuals to have tested positive twice, but said officials do know it happens. When it has, the case is treated as a new case if the individual completed their isolation period, Clayton said.
There are a handful of professionals, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who have said there are a couple issue working against them. Because the current tests for the virus do not test for a live version, and while this behavior where there is a resurgence is not common for the coronavirus family, it is behavior seen in other viruses.
Another common virus which goes away, and performs a resurgence at a later date is that which leads to a cold sore.
“The immune response, including duration of immunity, to SARS-CoV-2 infection is not yet understood,” the CDC said on its question and answer faq page. “Patients with MERS-CoV are unlikely to be re-infected shortly after they recover, but it is not yet known whether similar immune protection will be observed for patients with COVID-19.”
If SARS-COV-2, which causes COVID-19, is similar to coronaviruses in its family, such as the cold, this leads to questions about immunity and the duration of said immunity.
South Dakota isn’t the only place to have reported individuals infected twice. In South Korea, 91 people have been reported by Korean CDC, according to a Reuters article April 11.
“What many people don’t understand is that PCR tests simply for the virus’ genetic material and it is not an assay for active virus,” Richard Condit, a molecular biologist and professor emeritus at the University of Florida College of Medicine said in a Quartz article.
The CDC on its website stated "detection of viral RNA does not necessarily mean that infectious virus is present."
What does it all mean for regular people?
The simple answer is continue to follow CDC and South Dakota Department of Health guidelines. Be mindful of surroundings, be hygienic, wear a mask in public enclosed spaces and avoid large crowds. This is because they will know when they know, and not one second sooner.