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Healthcare

Active COVID cases surge past 8,700 in South Dakota

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A new year does not mean the end of last year’s problems with COVID-19. South Dakota is beginning 2022 with nearly 8,800 active cases. That’s up more than 3,000 from the same date last year.

238 people are hospitalized with the disease. The Department of Health reports eight more deaths, raising the state’s pandemic toll to 2,494.

Gov. Kristi Noem said recently the “number-one thing” people can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is washing their hands. Doctor Shankar Kurra is vice president of medical affairs at Monument Health in Rapid City. He said the virus is respiratory and should be treated that way.

“The most effective way to prevent this is to wear a mask, get vaccinated and avoid poorly ventilated spaces," Kurra said Monday on SDPB's In the Moment. "This virus is, as we have learned from Delta, which is twice more transmissible than the previous Alpha, and now with the Omicron being twice as much as Delta, that if you just wash your hands, you're not going to stop the spread.”

Nearly every county in the state is experiencing high community spread. The only exceptions are Harding, McPherson and Ziebach counties.

South Dakota health systems say the majority of people suffering several illness and death from COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

Vaccines are free and widely available. Information about local vaccine providers is available at vaccines.gov.