Hospital

Shown is Avera St. Mary's Hospital in Pierre. 

As certain locations in South Dakota have seen increases of COVID-19 cases, the public should be aware of testing guidelines.

“COVID is being spread in our communities and South Dakota has recently seen a high rate of positive tests. We’ve also seen increased hospitalizations,” Dr. Mikel Holland, president and chief medical officer at Avera St. Mary’s Hospital, said in a news release. “We all should be taking great care to follow guidelines to help control [the] spread of the virus.”

COVID-19 symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure, and can include: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle/body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting, and diarrhea.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, contact Avera Medical Group Pierre Clinic by phone at 605-224-5901, go to Avera.org/covidhotline, or call 1-877-AT-AVERA to inquire about diagnostic testing.

People with symptoms who are at high risk should also call for testing, according to the news release. Turnaround times for those who are high risk may be shorter. Patients at high risk include those with chronic heart or lung disease (including hypertension and chronic asthma/COPD), are over 65 years old, pregnant, or immunosuppressed (including active or prior cancer, HIV, taking immunosuppressive drugs, or diabetes).

Tests for people with symptoms who are at low risk for serious symptoms and/or complications may take up to five days to return results, which includes the testing of students unless they are at high risk as well asymptomatic people who have been exposed to a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case within six feet for 15 minutes or more.

A diagnostic test includes a nasal swab and it indicates if you have a current, active case of COVID-19. Avera also offers antibody testing, which indicates that you may have had COVID-19 in the past and have developed antibodies to the virus. The antibody test is a blood test and will not indicate if you currently have COVID-19.

If you have symptoms you should isolate at home until test results are returned, according to the press release. If positive, you should isolate at home until you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, symptoms are improving, and it’s been at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms.

Those with known exposure to the virus should isolate at home for 14 days regardless of test results.

The COVID-19 Hotline will call patients with positive results; negative results are mailed.

In the case of emergency symptoms that could be life-threatening, get immediate help. Call your local emergency room or 911 to inform them you have COVID-19 symptoms, then go. Emergency symptoms include bluish lips or skin, difficulty breathing, or fever over 104 degrees that doesn’t respond to treatment.

Remember to do what you can to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including mask wearing, social distancing, avoiding contact with sick people, staying home when you’re sick, washing hands often and for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, avoiding touching your face, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched objects and surfaces.

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