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Hospital capacity issue exacerbated by staff infection rate, officials ask public for help


Sanford Health and Avera Health urge the public to take preventative steps against the omicron variant of COVID-19. To combat the current surge in the coronavirus pandemic, officials recommend vaccination, masks, and utilizing at-home test kits.

Dr. David Basel, Vice President of Clinical Quality at Avera, said the accuracy of a positive result from an at-home test is nearly 95 percent. A negative test is around 80 percent accurate. He said there is no need to get tested at emergency clinics because they should be reserved for higher-risk patients.

Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Sanford Health, Dr. Michael Wilde said 90 percent of patients at Sanford who are ill with covid are unvaccinated and healthcare workers are also affected by the omicron surge.

“Our healthcare workers are not immune to the virus,” Wilde said. “In the last week, we’ve had hundreds of clinical staff unable to work because they are ill with covid, due to the omicron surge. In addition to many others who’ve had to call out sick, childcare centers are closed due to covid.”

Wilde said vaccinations coupled with booster shots do not provide full immunity. But vaccinated and boosted people are less likely to be hospitalized. Additionally, he said it will slow the circulation of Covid-19 and reduce the number of variants in the future.


Laura (she/her) is based at the Sioux Falls Studio. She is a journalism/anthropology student at Augustana University.