COVID-19; AN UPDATE
Those hoping that 2022 would be the dawn of a decline of Covid-19 cases may have to wait a few weeks to see if that trend takes hold.
It didn’t start out well in South Dakota; the first three weeks of January showed a consistent rise in cases, although that rate slowed the last week of the month. The good news is that it appears that’s part of a national trend showing a welcome decline in new cases.
Still the numbers are sobering.
January marked the largest monthly increase of cases statewide since the pandemic began nearly two years ago. The South Dakota Department of Health reported 48,186 new cases in January, eclipsing the previous monthly record of 33,588 in November 2020.
The average daily number of active cases in South Dakota in January 2022 (26,195) is significantly larger than the previous highs (16,621 in November 2020 and 11,143 in December 2020).
Last month recorded the third highest daily hospitalization rate – 359 statewide. The previous highs came in the final three months of 2020 with a daily average of 422; November topped that stretch with a daily average of 561, December 417 and October 311.
Last month recorded the fifth largest number of deaths statewide – 166. December 2020 was the deadliest month with 553. In November 2020 it was 511, but by January 2021 it had dropped to 290.
Health care officials credit the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing the number of hospitalizations and deaths given the significantly higher number of cases in recent months.
The local picture
The spike in Covid cases in January is apparent in Hutchinson, McCook and Turner counties as well. The 909 new cases reported last month topped the previous monthly high – 876 in November 2020. In contrast, a total of six new cases were reported the entire month of July of last year.
And the same trend of smaller increases in late January appears to be taking hold locally as well. New cases in Hutchinson, McCook and Turner counties averaged 250 a week the first three weeks of January; last week that dipped to 145.
The number of active cases locally also spiked in January, going from 226 at the start of the month to 706 on Jan. 24. Tuesday, Feb. 1 it had dropped to 566; still that’s double what it was at the end of 2021.
There’s one caveat in all of this; a growing number of people are testing themselves at home – or choosing not to get tested. As a result, health care officials believe the reported cases are an undercount of actual infections.
Editor’s Note: This comes from former Courier Publisher Tim L. Waltner, who since the beginning of the pandemic has been tracking and analyzing numbers based on regular updates from the South Dakota Department of Health.