Statewide clinical trial to help fight COVID-19; Lincoln County second highest in Positive cases



On Thursday, April 9, Governor Kristi Noem signed an extension of her previous executive orders to continue South Dakota’s fight against the spread of COVID-19. The new Executive Order (EO 2020-15) extends Governor Noem’s initial State of Emergency declaration from March 13th.  A State of Emergency declaration allows the governor to activate certain emergency powers so that the governor and state agencies can respond to this emergency to the fullest extent necessary and use all resources available to fight the virus’ spread.  The Executive Order also clarifies that other previous executive orders are extended through the duration of this emergency.  

The State of Emergency in South Dakota is now extended until May 31, 2020.

On Monday, April 13, Governor Kristi Noem announced that South Dakota, with Sanford Health leading the effort, will be the first state with a statewide clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating and preventing COVID-19.

“From day one, I’ve said we’re going to let the science, facts, and data drive our decision-making in South Dakota,” said Noem. “Throughout last week, I communicated with White House officials to let them know that South Dakota’s medical community was ready to step up and lead the way on research efforts. I made direct requests to President Trump and Vice President Pence to supply us with enough hydroxychloroquine so that it could be made available for every hospitalized person the state may have, as well as for those healthcare workers on the frontlines and those in the most vulnerable populations.”

Sanford Health, aided by Avera and Monument Health will treat up to 100,000 people including outpatient and hospitalized patients with COVID-19, in addition to frontline healthcare workers, and high-risk individuals who have been exposed to the virus. 

The numbers of positive cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota continue to rise. The two counties with the highest reports are Minnehaha and Lincoln County. Because of that, last week Governor Noem issued Executive Order 2020-13, a mandatory order for Lincoln and Minnehaha County, that states to flatten the curve and slow down hospitalizations due to the spread of COVID-19, adults over the age of sixty-five (65) and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions, collectively referred to as “Vulnerable Individuals,” shall stay at home or a place of residence if possible, except for vulnerable individuals to work in a critical infrastructure sector job or to conduct essential errands.

The stay at home issuance for is in effect in Lincoln and Minnehaha County until April 27, 2020. To learn more about South Dakota’s fight against COVID-19, visit COVID.sd.gov.

As of Wednesday, April 15, the total positive cases in South Dakota were 1168, with 8691 negatives reported. In Minnehaha the number was 934 and in Lincoln County 65.

The high numbers in Minnehaha County stem from Smithfield Foods. This food packing plant in Sioux Falls is now considered the number one hot spot in the United States for COVID-19 Cases, according to the New York Times. Smithfield Foods announced Sunday that they will close its Sioux Falls facility until further notice.

On Wednesday, the state health officials confirmed that 518 of the state’s positive COVID-19 cases are tied Smithfield employees. In addition, 126 people have tested positive after being in direct contact with Smithfield workers.

The state’s death toll remains at six. Recoveries are reported at 329. The state health department shows 51 people have been hospitalized at some point in their illness since the state first reported cases.

For more information about potential risks and recommendations visit https://doh.sd.gov/or www.cdc.gov.

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