Why Does South Dakota Rank Almost Last In COVID-19 Testing?
Of the global 3,600,106 COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday 251,898 are in the United States. Of those cases, 1,190,634 are in the United States and 2,721 are in South Dakota.
These numbers are from The Center of Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. And the way we know of the confirmed cases is because people are tested for the virus. So why are we not testing more in South Dakota?
NPR quoted Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, the American Heart Association's chief medical officer for prevention and a former state health commissioner of Texas:
When a communicable disease outbreak begins the ideal response is for public health officials to begin testing for it early. That leads to quick identification of cases, quick treatment for those people and immediate isolation to prevent spread. Early testing also helps to identify anyone who came into contact with infected people so they too can be quickly treated.”
Census.gov puts the population of South Dakota at 884,659 yet only 18,713 people have been tested for COVID-19. That is just a little over 2% of the state's population. In April Sioux Falls Smithfield Foods was the nation's single largest hotspot for COVID-19 cases when hundreds of workers tested positive.
As the Smithfield pork plant tries to get back to operations employees and their families are getting much-needed tests and results at a 'mass testing event' in the parking lot at Washington High School. But what about the rest of Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, and South Dakota.
South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said in a press briefing on Monday that the state will consider more mass testing events in the future. However, she said she does not expect universal, on-demand testing to be available anytime soon.
Why not? New York has tested over 1 million people, Minnesota 85,941, Wisconsin 88,703, Iowa 57,161, Nebraska 33,754. Yet South Dakota has tested the fewest residents with the exception of Vermont and Montana at only again 18,713. Shouldn't we be doing better than this?