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South Dakota State Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon answers questions from the media in the second of her news conferences, this one from the Governor’s Large Meeting Room in the State Capitol, May 21 in Pierre.

The second death in an individual under the age of 40 was announced in the South Dakota Department of Health teleconference, Thursday, May 21 in Pierre.

There were 73 new cases of COVID-19 with 839 negative test results reported, state head Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said.

The two deaths were of one Minnehaha County resident and one Pennington County resident, he said.

Officials would not directly say the individual did or did not have an underlying condition, but because they identified the first one, previously reported in the Capital Journal, “We do have information that that person had underlying medical condition that contributed to their death,” Clayton said May 12.

On Thursday, Clayton read the numbers and age groups, and with the second tally in the 30-39 category, the question was posed.

“We have two deaths that are being reported (today),” Clayton said. “What I can state is that one individual in that 30-39 year age group had underlying medical conditions that did contribute to their death. The other person did not have an underlying medical condition. That is something that has been investigated and confirmed.”

The combination of the information from the report May 12, plus Thursday's report, means an otherwise healthy person under age 40 has died from COVID-19 in South Dakota.

The 46 deaths across the state are still some of the lowest for the nation and world, all the while cases are occurring in more places. However, officials emphasized this is not the time to relax.

“I think the situation is that there’s still a lot about this virus we don’t know, and that is unpredictable,” Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said during her second of two news conferences, this one from the Governor’s Large Conference Room in the State Capitol. “We’ve seen the virus change since it was first detected in China. We’ve seen different strains of it. We are still learning to understand how transmittable it is.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its timetable for potential exposure as of May 21, Malsam-Rysdon said.

“The CDC just updated its guidance on close contacts today where they are defining a close contact as someone who’s been within 6 feet of a person for 15 minutes,” Malsam-Rysdon said. “That’s a lot longer than what we’ve been working with. I think what we are seeing is the unpredictability of the virus and the need to stay vigilant and continue to do what we’re doing with testing and isolation if you’re positive and social distancing.”

The deaths by age group so far included two in the 30-39 age group, one in the 40-49, seven in the 50-59, seven in the 60-69, five in the 70-79 and 26 in the 80 and older group, the Clayton said.

There were two updates to the community impact map with both Oglala Lakota and Aurora County being moved into the minimal to moderate community acquired spread of the virus, officials said.

Several of the cases in Aurora County are due to community acquired exposures and they are reflected in the update to the impact map now including Aurora, Clayton said.

The cases across South Dakota included one in each of Grant, Lyman, Marshal and Union counties; two in Jerauld and Lincoln counties; three in Coddington County; 10 in Brown County; 11 in Beadle County; 12 in Aurora County; 13 in Minnehaha County; and 15 in Pennington County, Clayton said.

Minnehaha owns 3,195 of the state’s total 4,250. However, for a third day in a row, the county has not been at the top in the number of new infections.

The Smithfield Foods cluster has no new updates, as the numbers still stand at 841 of 853 employees, and 245 of 245 of their close contacts have recovered, Clayton said.

DemKota Beef continues to add cases to both categories of positive for COVID-19 and recovered. Thursday, there were two more in each from Wednesday’s numbers for a total of 130 employees to become infected, while 86 have recovered.

There are cases reported at the Dakota Provisions plant in Huron. State officials are actively working investigations into them as well as working with the business to update and ensure worker safety, Clayton said.

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