PIERRE - From the end of March to early April, South Dakotans age 20 to 29 years old accounted for nearly 20% of all COVID-19 cases in the state.
That concerns South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon.
“I want to make a pitch that the 20- to 29 year-old population really take vaccination seriously. Please, if you are in that age group, get vaccinated because your health and well-being are important as is the health of others in our state,” she said during the health department’s weekly news briefing Wednesday.
According to recent data, there has been a 7% jump in COVID-19 cases among those who are 20-29 years old in the past six weeks. From March 23 to April 5 alone, 479 cases were linked to this age group, totaling 19% of all identified cases.
South Dakota reached a vaccination milestone within the past week as the percentage of state residents who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine reached 50%.
This places South Dakota among the top nationwide leaders in vaccination efforts, with more than 208,485 South Dakotans having completed their vaccination series. This translates to approximately 25% of the state having been fully vaccinated against the virus.
Malsam-Rysdon reiterated that vaccinations are the quickest way out of this pandemic.
On April 5, the Department of Health entered Phase II of the state’s vaccination plan. This move made COVID-19 vaccines available to all state residents, age 16 and older.
But some are still hesitant to get the vaccine.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, some 20% or more of residents of western South Dakota are hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Using federal survey data, the agency developed state, county, and sub-state level predictions of hesitancy rates.
Here are the rates for some counties in western South Dakota:
Meade, Lawrence, Butte, Harding and Perkins: 21.26%, hesitant, 8.22%, strongly hesitant; Fall River, Oglala Lakota and Bennett: 28.86%, hesitant, 12.47%, strongly hesitant.
The rates in Wyoming and North Dakota are even higher with most approaching one-third of the population being hesitant and nearly 20% being strongly hesitant.
Malsam-Rysdon said the DOH recognized that there would be people who needed more information and more time to consider whether or not they would get the vaccine.
The Department of Health plans informational marketing to various populations in the state concerning the COVID-19 vaccine, she said.
“We are actively working towards that right now,” Malsam-Rysdon said of the outreach effort.
Meanwhile, South Dakota has seen an uptick in the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 this week. Over the past two days, hospitalizations have increased by 17 to 113 on Wednesday.
State health officials reported 225 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday.
Active cases were down by 48 to 2,391 and one new death was reported. The new death sends the death toll to 1,948.
South Dakota Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton says the COVID-19 variants continue to increase in South Dakota with at least one case of variant virus in every age group. Health officials said that since April 1, 424 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in people ages 20-29, and only 17 new cases in the 80-plus age range.
There was also an increase in cases across the Black Hills area Wednesday.
Meade County had four confirmed cases. Lawrence and Butte counties each added one confirmed case.
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