PIERRE, S.D. -- South Dakota officials confirmed seven more cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus, increasing the state's total count to 21 as of Sunday, March 22.
In a news conference with reporters, officials said all of the confirmed cases thus far have been a result of travel or direct contact with an infected individual, as opposed to community spread. Gov. Kristi Noem has not yet asked non-essential businesses to close, as her peers in neighboring states have, saying her office is unable to enforce such orders if she put them in place.
Of the 21 confirmed cases in the state, six have made full recoveries, and one has died. As of Sunday, 740 South Dakotans tested negative for the virus and 277 tests are pending.
On Sunday, Noem said "businesses have all the opportunity to make decisions on how they run their operations" and "a vast majority" have changed their practices in light on the pandemic.
"We’ve seen so many stories of people making the right decisions, cooperating together," Noem said. "I've been impressed and proud of those across the state of South Dakota that have done it in that manner and would encourage them to continue."
For rural Beadle County, though, Noem said she had a "harsher message." With less than 19,000 residents, Beadle has the highest number of confirmed cases of all South Dakota counties at 10. Minnehaha County, the most populous county in the state, has five confirmed cases, by comparison.
"I’m going to ask your local leadership to be much more stringent in how you go out and interact with the public," Noem said Sunday. "Communicate with your families (in Beadle County) that they do need to stay home, they do need to be watching each other."
For "isolated incidences" of reportedly crowded restaurants, bars or other businesses, Noem said she is sure local leaders will act accordingly.
In neighboring Minnesota, 169 positive COVID-19 cases have been confirmed as of Sunday, including those transmitted through community spread. Non-essential businesses such as restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms and salons have been shuttered via executive order. In North Dakota, 28 have tested positive for the virus, and many non-essential businesses have closed, but not all.
The CDC COVID-19 symptom checklist is here.
MDH COVID-19 hotline: (651) 201-3920.
Business impacts hotline: (651) 297-1304 or (800) 657-3504.
School and childcare hotline: (651) 297-1304 or (800) 657-3504.
MDH COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.
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