SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota is getting new rapid-test equipment for the coronavirus, state officials said Tuesday, March 31, as the state added seven new coronavirus cases, boosting its total to 108.
The state is expecting 10-15 Abbott ID NOW rapid-test systems and the supplies to operate them, state officials said. The devices would give the state the ability to quickly diagnose people on-site.
"This is fantastic," said Gov. Kristi Noem. "These are going to be testing supplies and equipment that we'll be able to utilize to get instant results for individuals across the state of South Dakota."
The news comes as Tuesday's new test results showed the virus continues to expand its undetected movement in the state.
Two new counties — Brown and Marshall — are experiencing community spread, the term public health officials use when they don't know how an infected person caught COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
South Dakota now has community spread in 15 counties. The state has found coronavirus cases in 30 of its 66 counties.
Twelve of the people known to be infected by coronavirus in the state are hospitalized, and 44 have recovered from their illness, state officials say.
Noem said the state would seek to prioritize rapid testing in tribal populations and "underserved areas."
"We'll put them in populations where we can focus on stopping hotspots and making sure we're getting people answers on if they're positive with COVID-19 and then immediately be able to isolate them and protect more people," she said.
Kim Malsam-Rysdon, the secretary of the state Department of Health, said later the state is still gauging the devices' capacity and deciding how to deploy them, but said their arrival was encouraging.
The rapid tests would be a unique and welcome ability to the state's COVID-19 testing capacity, a crucial factor in tracking and curbing the spread of the coronavirus, and hopefully, saving lives.
The state lab in Pierre, currently testing only high-priority cases, can only process up to 180 tests per day. Labs set up by Sioux Falls-based Sanford Health and Avera Health can together process about 600 tests a day, and are handling medium- and low-priority tests. Other such tests are being submitted to out-of-state labs, whose turnaround time for results can require up to six days.
State, private and in-hospital labs have processed a total of 3,717 tests from South Dakota.
The state's other battle is over personal protective equipment for its health care workers, such as masks, gowns and face shields.
Malsam-Rysdon said South Dakota received a large shipment of supplies on Monday from the federal stockpile, including 143,000 surgery masks, 15,000 gowns and 1,400 face shields.
"We've gotten a few different shipments now, including one very large one yesterday, and have another one in the process of being shipped," she said. "again, (we're) very appreciative of those shipments. They are helping us keep up with the current demand."
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