Earlier this week, officials in President Donald Trump’s administration said COVID-19 could kill up to 240,000 Americans.

Gov. Kristi Noem and Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon emphasize South Dakota is not comparable to New York City, California, Michigan, Massachusetts or Florida when it comes to the danger presented by COVID-19 infections.

Nevertheless, during their Wednesday news conference at the State Capitol in Pierre, Noem and Malsam-Rysdon provided some somber statistics regarding the coronavirus outbreak in South Dakota.

“We cannot stop it. What we are trying to do is slow the spread,” Noem said.

In answering a question posed by the Capital Journal during the news conference, Malsam-Rysdon said her office projects that anywhere from 0.5% to 3% of those who contract COVID-19 in South Dakota will die from it.

“The consensus around the number of people that are likely to get infected is 30% of our population,” Malsam-Rysdon said in response to another question from the Capital Journal.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, South Dakota’s current population estimate is 884,659. A quick calculation shows that 30% of this is 265,398.

“Now, keep in mind, 80% of those people will have mild symptoms and will not require care outside of staying at home,” Malsam-Rysdon emphasized.

Still, if 265,398 South Dakotans contract COVID-19, the range of 0.5% to 3% shows that officials are projecting anywhere from 1,327 to 7,962 state residents to die from COVID-19.

“Whatever we tell you today could change significantly by tomorrow,” Noem said Wednesday. “That’s the reality of what we’re dealing with.”

When asked if she is doing enough to protect the public, Noem said residents have been warned of the danger by being told to stay home and practice good hygiene.

“My responsibility is to respect the rights of people and those who elected me,” Noem said.

“If I could legislate human behavior, I wouldn’t need a Department of Corrections,” Noem added.

COVID-19 Breakdown Confirmed cases for South Dakota: 129

By County:

Aurora — 1

Beadle -21

Bon Homme-1



Charles Mix-1


Clay- 3




Fall River -1

Faulk -1

Hamlin -1

Hughes -2

Hutchinson -2

Lawrence — 6



Marshall -1





Roberts — 2

Todd — 1

Turner — 1

Union — 1

Yankton — 8

Confirmed cases for U.S. 186,101

By State:

New York-74,427

New Jersey- 18,696

California — 8,131

Michigan — 7,615

Florida — 6,490

Minnesota- 689

Iowa- 497

Montana — 203

Nebraska- 177

North Dakota- 126


Confirmed cases for World: 827,419

By Nation:

U.S. — 186,101



China- 82,638




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