Meade County resident and health-care worker tests positive for COVID-19

Courtesy photo

RAPID CITY — A Monument Health employee who lives in Meade County has tested positive for COVID-19.

Monument Health is not releasing information as to the gender, age, or facility the person worked, and would leave that information to be released by the state.

Currently the case is not listed on the covid.sd.gov website, but updates to the site have typically been made around noon daily.

Stephany Chalberg manager of public relations for Monument Health, said the hospital’s infectious disease staff is working with the state Department of Health to track the patient’s contacts.

Ellsworth Air Force Base officials announced that two spouses of active-duty airmen have been in contact with the person. The spouses live off base and are currently in quarantine, as well as the active-duty members.

Chalberg said the Monument Health employee’s case is travel-related from within the U.S.

Gov. addresses rise in cases

Gov. Kristi Noem said Tuesday that South Dakota may be as much as eight weeks away from the peak of the COVID-19 crisis and needs to limit business activity, even as President Donald Trump considers relaxing national guidance.

“This situation is not going to be over in a week. ... We have another eight weeks until we see our peak infection rate,” Noem told reporters.

The Republican governor said she’ll continue to support restrictions on businesses and social gatherings. She expects infections to increase and is bracing the state’s health care system for a surge of patients. She ordered schools to remain closed and state employees to work from home until at least May. 

COVID-19 infections are now spreading in communities throughout the state, as the total number of positive tests rose to 30 on Tuesday.

State inmates escape

The governor said that nine women on Monday escaped from the Women’s Prison in Pierre, where one inmate tested positive on Monday. Four of the women who escaped have been apprehended.

Officials are keeping the woman with COVID-19 in isolation, but would not say whether she was being held in a cell or other part of the prison. Secretary of health, Kim Malsam-Rysdon says an investigation is underway into how the coronavirus spread to the prison and who might be at risk for infection.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild cases recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe ones can take three to six weeks to get better.

One state lawmaker had to be airlifted to a hospital in Sioux Falls on Monday after he became infected. Rep. Bob Glanzer, a Huron Republican, is one of 13 people who have tested positive in Beadle County, where testing shows the outbreak is the worst in the state.

Noem said lawmakers are considering holding their final scheduled meeting of this year’s legislative session via teleconference next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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