SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota officials are working to expand the amount of information they release about the coronavirus' presence in the state, they said Monday, March 30, as known cases of the virus topped 100.
State officials, including Gov. Kristi Noem, have said previously they expected to have less information to share on daily test results as the coronavirus spreads in the state. But this week came a number of signs the state is working to expand the amount of information they make available to the public — to a point.
On Monday, health officials held the first of what they said would be daily briefings to take media questions on testing results. The briefings appear to be taking the place of the almost-daily weekday press conferences previously led by Gov. Noem.
New testing has found another 11 cases, for a state total of 101. None of the new cases are hospitalized but are isolated at home, said Josh Clayton, state epidemiologist.
Newly discovered cases showed the virus is moving undetected — known as community spread — in 13 of the states' 66 counties, adding three since Sunday, according to the state's coronavirus information page.
Thirty-four of those diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, have recovered. State and private labs, including two in-house health system labs in the state, have processed a total of 3,579 tests.
'We do not associate them'
The state is seeking to add the county location of those who have recovered in the state, said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, secretary of the state Department of Health.
State officials have looked at how to show hospitalizations on the site, but haven't found a good way to do that yet, she said
But Clayton balked at a request for the age and gender of the new confirmed case in Brown County, the fourth most populous county in South Dakota, with a population of about 39,000.
The state will release data on case totals, county locations and statewide data on the gender and ages of confirmed cases, but it won't give the gender or age range for specific cases, he said.
"We do not associate them, otherwise it would make it more easy to identify an individual in some of our communities," Clayton said.
Clayton's statement is at odds with what South Dakota officials have done in the past. The state released individual case information —sex, age range in decades and county location — nearly daily in the first weeks of the pandemic's arrival in South Dakota earlier this month.
People who get health care are shielded by federal privacy protections from having information specific to them and their care released to the public.
But state officials across the nation have taken very different approaches to the amount of information they release, as they seek to balance privacy concerns and the public's hunger for information that fuels many local rumor mills. Some states release elaborate interactive dashboards, while others offer limited information that generalizes statewide totals.
In North Dakota, for example, state officials send out a twice-daily email detailing the latest test results by individual, identifying cases by only sex, age by decade and county of residence, as well as other information about how the person caught COVID-19.
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