Mass testing of vulnerable populations such as nursing homes and assisted livings facilities, followed by ongoing random or sentinel testing have started this week in South Dakota. This will include all residents and staff of facilities statewide, starting in communities with substantial community spread. Staff will assist in collecting the samples and if they do not have access to a lab, the state will have commercial labs available. These costs then will be covered by the state with the support of federal funding. The COVID-19 testing would next focus on those with intellectual disabilities whom are living in congregate or group homes.
Native American populations will be tested as well for COVID-19. In a joint effort with North Dakota, testing will start with the Sisseton-Wahpeton reservation area in northeastern South Dakota. They will then work to those counties less affected in the following weeks.
Department of Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon estimates the number of people to be tested weekly: 1st week: 7,400, 2nd week: 10,200, 3rd week: 4,300, 4th week: 4,300.
Governor Noem expects an increase in COVID-19 cases with the start of mass testing, especially in these vulnerable populations.
Statewide, there were 40 new cases confirmed on Monday, May 18th and no new deaths bringing the total COVID-19 cases to 4,027 in South Dakota. Brown County reported four new cases bringing their total to 200 with 98 active. Of those 200 cases, 118 are DemKota Ranch Beef employees of which 74 have recovered. Beadle County has seen a recent increase as well, with six new cases reported Monday, 16 which are active COVID-19 positive. Spink County remains at four total cases with four recovered and 163 testing negative for COVID-19.
Department of Labor Report
The Department of Labor reported that their office has increased from 11 to 70 employees; which in total have been doing the full time work of 95 employees in their department since the start of the pandemic. There was an increase of 1,202 initial unemployment claims last week, including those self-employed/contracted persons and those who exhausted their initial weeks of unemployment benefits.
For the week of May 11th there were 23,719 weekly payments of unemployment, which paid out 19 million dollars. The state funded 5.3 million and 13.3 came from the federal government to pay these claims.