In a press conference on Tuesday, March 17 South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced that there would be no school across the state of South Dakota next week (March 23-27) due to the Cornoavirus Pandemic.
Governor Noem first confirmed the five positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in South Dakota on March 10. As of March 17, the number of positive cases has risen to 11 in the state. Minnehaha County has the most positive cases with five confirmed cases.
The positive cases include seven different counties, including Beadle County (1), Bon Homme (1), Charles Mix County (1), Davison County (1), McCook (1), Minnehaha County (5) and Pennington County (1). One of the cases was fatal, a man in his sixties from Pennington County.
All cases had travel history outside South Dakota prior to illness onset. As of March 17, Noem stated there is no community transmission at this time.
Noem stated that the patients testing positive for COVID-19 are being treated at their respective homes. Ages for positive cases range from 20 to 69 years old, of the 11 positive cases, 2 are female. As of March 18 the South Dakota Department of Health (SD-DOH) showed 551 negative cases, with 350 pending cases.
Governor Noem said, “Our team has been preparing for weeks, and I am confident we have the right people in place to address this fluid situation. Without panicking, I encourage all South Dakotans to take this seriously – now is the time to prepare and to stay informed.”
South Dakotans can learn more about COVID-19 by visiting the South Dakota Department of Health website (COVID.sd.gov) or by calling 1-800-997-2880.
Here in Tea, and the surrounding communities, local government officials and business owners have been taking action. At the end of last week, local assisted living and nursing homes altered their visitor policies.
Morgan Lane Village, a large community-owned assisted living facility in Tea, SD has limited visitors to their facility in order to protect workers and residents.
Todd Anderson with the Good Samaritan Society Lennox said, “Good Samaritan Society-Lennox is not allowing visitors at this time due to Covid-19, we are taking this step, as directed by our corporate office, as a precaution to continue to keep our residents from coming in contact with this virus. We are having daily updates to monitor the situation and we will make adjustments to our visitor status as allowed. Immediate family members of our residents are being kept informed with our current status, we know this is not easy for them, but they also understand we are keeping our residents health and well-being as our top priority.”
The City of Tea has adopted a Coronavirus Employee Policy.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been updating policies regarding precautions that communities and families should take. This information can be found online at www.cdc.gov.
Lincoln County has also made some adjustments, canceling the March 17 meeting in Lennox for the Public Safety Center and is encouraging all citizens to do as much county business as possible online.
In a proactive effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, signs were placed at the entry doors at the courthouse that state, “If you are experiencing flu like symptoms, please conduct your County business remotely”.
Phone numbers and email addresses for county services are available at www.lincolncountysd.org.
Harold Timmerman with Lincoln County Emergency Management said that there will be additional screening questions for those calling in to 911 in an effort to inform responding emergency personal of a COVID-19 concern. Area fire departments and ambulance have the proper supplies needed to respond, he said.
Tea Fire Chief Steve Oberle said, “We have a plan — basically we are going to adapt our procedures according to the threat with the help of Lincoln County dispatch. We have a plan in place, it all depends on the ambulance service coming in.”
Oberele confirmed that the Tea Volunteer Fire Department has sufficient Personal protective equipment (PPE) to cover their personnel.
The South Dakota Supreme Court also issued an order declaring a judiciary emergency in South Dakota as a result of COVID-19. The order is intended as a proactive measure to enable the court system to respond swiftly to any emerging public health crisis in the courts of the state and to ensure the safety of court personnel, litigants and the public that interact with the court system.
With all of the changes to plans and policies happening quickly, many organizations are making adjustments as needed in an effort to serve the community.
The local Tea Food Pantry, located at 335 W. 1st Street has changed to be open by appointment only. Those in need are encouraged to call 605-321-7325.
Ruth Anderson with the Tea Area Food Pantry said, “We’d just like to thank everyone for understanding this closing situation, and hopefully as soon as it is possible, we will reopen. I will be on call, if anyone needs food, please call me, and I will make sure you get some.”
Many area churches have changed from in-person worship services to online options. People are encouraged to call ahead or check websites for current schedules.
On Monday, March 16 President Donald Trump released the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America. In the document, titled, “15 days to slow the spread” the biggest change from more recent guidelines was the recommendation to avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
It’s likely that by the time this article gets printed there will be changes in statistics, and adjustments to plans for area businesses and organizations. Tea Weekly will continue to post updates online at www.teaweekly.com — click the COVID-19 menu. Watch for future articles in upcoming weeks as this story develops.