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South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon looks on during a news conference at the State Capitol in Pierre. 

“Come forward and we will work to get you vaccinated.”

So says South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon.

New COVID-19 cases in South Dakota continue to decrease as vaccination efforts increase, for which the state is in the top five in the country.

According to Malsam-Rysdon, the weekly allocation of doses the state receives will increase by 16% in the coming weeks. Previously, South Dakota received a weekly allocation of 11,000 doses, which is being bumped up to 12,800 per week.

Malsam-Rysdon said this is “great news” for the state, and she encouraged South Dakotans who are eligible to get vaccinated, reassuring them that it is safe and effective.

“Some people need more time to contemplate, and I encourage people who were eligible before if they change their mind, they will be eligible in our current effort,” Malsam-Rysdon said. “Come forward and we will work to get you vaccinated.”

So far statewide, 92,896 doses have been administered to 66,448 people. Of the total doses, 49,983 are the Moderna vaccine and 42,913 are Pfizer. Of the Moderna doses, 25,873 people have received one dose and 12,055 have received the full two dose course. Of the Pfizer doses, 14,127 people have received one and 14,393 have received two.

In Hughes County, 2,152 doses have been administered to 1,598 different people. In Stanley County, 302 doses have been administered to 220 people.

In the coming weeks, Malsam-Rysdon said vaccinators will continue vaccinating the 1D priority group, focusing initially on people over the age of 80, high-risk residents in congregate settings, cancer patients, and post transplant/dialysis patients. As allocations continue and that initial group is vaccinated, the rest of the 265,000 in group 1D will have the opportunity to get a vaccine. Each week the DOH plans to drop the age groups allowed priority in five year increments.

“Even with the increase in allocation, it will take us some time to get the vaccine to them,” Malsam-Rysdon said. The vaccine timeline is “fluid and subject to change based on our weekly allocations.”

Department of Health officials are currently seeking volunteers to help with vaccination efforts. Anyone can apply, regardless of if they have a medical background.

“While South Dakota is among those states leading in vaccine distribution and administration nationwide, an effective and streamlined volunteer pool that is willing and able to assist will be key as vaccination efforts are expanded,” according to a press release from DOH.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said the state is continuing to conduct surveillance for the new COVID strains first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, which have not yet been reported in South Dakota. Neighboring states of Wyoming and Minnesota have seen cases of these new strains, about which scientists are still learning.

Clayton also gave an update on MIS-C cases in the state, an illness that occurs in children that may be caused by COVID-19 that inflames multiple major organs. He said there have been a total of six cases of MIS-C in the state among children aged 0-17 years. Three of the cases were in the eastern part of the state and three were in the west. Similarly, three cases were among males and three among females. All six children were hospitalized but none died. Only one of the six had an underlying medical condition.

Nationally, 1,659 cases of MIS-C were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of Wednesday, and caused 26 deaths in 47 total states.

Clayton said current COVID-19 trends in the state show a decrease in overall case numbers. From Jan. 21-27, the state averaged 221 cases per day, compared to Dec. 21-27, when the state saw around 443 cases per day.

While the downward trend continues, Clayton said it is important to note that many communities are still reporting high levels of community transmission and he urged South Dakotans to keep up preventative measures like mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing.

In South Dakota, the DOH reported 132 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 28 probable cases as of Friday afternoon. There are 3,060 active infections among 96,460 total confirmed cases and 11,495 total probable cases. Currently, 152 people are hospitalized and 1,768 have died from COVID.

In Hughes County, there are 78 active infections and 33 have died. In Stanley County, there are 11 active cases and two have died.

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