South Dakota avoids mass COVID-19 testing to avoid delays
South Dakota will only test people with COVID-19 symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus because increased nationwide testing delays test results.
(AP) - South Dakota will adhere to recommendations that only people with COVID-19 symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus be tested because an increase in testing nationwide is delaying test results, state health officials said Thursday.
As large gatherings such as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the state fair get underway, local officials were planning to conduct mass testing to screen for outbreaks. But the Department of Health is balancing calls for mass testing with ensuring they can get the results quickly.
“That time to getting those test results is a very important part of our ability to respond,” said state epidemiologist Josh Clayton. “If we’re not hearing and learning of an individual who is a positive case until seven to 10 days after their specimen was collected, that is problematic.”
The state’s public health lab currently produces test results within one or two days, according to Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon. But the large commercial labs that receive tests from multiple states have struggled to keep up with a surge.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported Thursday that the average turnaround time for labs is three days or less, Malsam-Rysdon said.
Health experts have said widespread testing is important to prevent large outbreaks of the coronavirus. South Dakota is trying to conduct 44,233 tests every month, which is 5% of the population, though some people are tested more than once. So far this month, the Department of Health is 38% of the way to its monthly goal.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by about 12, an increase of 15%.
Over the course of the pandemic, the state has reported that 9,897 people have tested positive for COVID-19. About 88% of them have recovered, but 148 have died and 1,058 still have active infections.
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