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White House: South Dakota's Testing Rate, Positivity Level Is Deeply Concerning


The White House Coronavirus task force reports that South Dakota’s COVID-19 testing is at insufficient levels.
It recommends increased testing and that the state aggressively promote mask use and social distancing.
The recommendations come from a report sent to the country’s 50 governors and released by ABC News. The White House task force says South Dakota is in a ‘red zone’ for COVID. That means there were more than 100 new cases for every 100,000 residents last week. At that point, South Dakota had the 2nd highest COVID case rate in the country.
Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon says the Department of Health has been very clear getting CDC recommendations out to the public.
“Our current campaign is exactly on this topic, about the need to continue to social distance,” Malsam-Rysdon says. “We are very much in line with that and that’s part of all the messaging we make. Whether that’s to media, to various groups that we talk to, to individuals that call our 800 number. Everyone who visits our website will see that front and center. I think we’re very consistent with that message.”
South Dakota is one of only a few states that never called a complete shut down to prevent the spread of the virus. The state has also consistently allowed large group events.

In July, President Trump attended the fireworks show at Mt. Rushmore, with 7,500 people. Masks were not required.
In August, South Dakota was host to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  Masks were not required.
This past weekend, the South Dakota State Fair brought visitors to Huron. Now, the Department of Health will begin testing Huron residents.
And there are continued public events. The Buffalo Round Up is scheduled for the end of September.
In late October, country musician Chris Young will perform at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls as part of the Governor’s Hunt showcase.
In response to the White House report, a spokesperson for the Governor Kristi Noem says the governor has shared up-to-date science, facts, and data. She trusts that state residents will make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones.
The governor’s office says it will remain on the state’s COVID hospitalization rate. Three percent of hospital beds are occupied by COVID patients.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.