PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota hospitals are currently caring for 607 COVID-19 patients. Of those patients, 100 occupy intensive care unit beds and 50 are using ventilators.

As of Tuesday, Nov. 10, the available hospital bed capacity in the entire state is at 36.4%.

As South Dakota grapples with record-high hospitalizations and the loss of 115 lives since Nov. 1, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams visited with state health officials in Pierre on Tuesday at the state’s first surge testing site.

South Dakota Department of Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon told reporters about Adams' visit during a media call on Tuesday.

“He was able to see the National Guard in action, and I’ll tell you it was a well-organized event,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

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Malsam-Rysdon also echoed Adams’ message to South Dakota about the effectiveness of masks in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“He relayed his message that he’s done in many, many other places,” Malsam-Rysdon said, adding that social distancing and hand-washing were just as prevalent in Adams’ message.

“Again, I think that’s a message that you’ll hear from us as well. We really do need for people to step up and do those things.”

Malsam-Rysdon said Adams discussed how COVID-19 is spreading within smaller groups.

“Even if it’s just family units or what we would consider kind of normal interactions with co-workers or neighbors. So we can’t let our guard down,” she said.

The death toll increased by three on Tuesday to 540. Active cases reached a record high of 16,959. Tuesday’s test-positivity rate is at 54%.

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Marvel covers South Dakota government and politics news. She can be followed on Twitter at @shannmarvel and reached at smarvel@forumcomm.com or 605-350-8355.