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Visit Rapid City plans on busy summer as COVID cases go down

Since May of last year, the spread of the coronavirus in Pennington County has been considered...
Since May of last year, the spread of the coronavirus in Pennington County has been considered substantial, the highest level of spread classified by the DOH.(Nick Nelson)
Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 4:28 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - There’s more to be hopeful for in the fight against COVID-19 as the South Dakota Department of Health dropped the rate of community spread in Pennington County from substantial to moderate.

Since May of last year, the spread of the coronavirus in Pennington County has been considered substantial, the highest level of spread classified by the DOH. As of Monday, that status was lowered to moderate as the county’s test-positivity rate dropped below 5%.

Health experts say that while this change in community spread is encouraging, 80% of the population still needs to be vaccinated before we can return to normal.

Dr. Shankar Kurra, Vice-President of Medical Affairs for Monument Health, said that both staying socially distant, and getting vaccinated, can help get the community to reach that goal.

“What we need to do is continue to wear the mask until 80% of our population is vaccinated, and then we can be free to enjoy social settings like bars and restaurants and enjoy the summer,” Kurra said.

Visit Rapid City is already preparing for the summer as community spread is decreasing.

“It really is good for our residents to feel a little more comfortable going out and about and maybe using some of their stimulus money to help some of the local businesses survive,” Visit Rapid City President Julie Schmitz Jensen said. “But also, visitors care about that.”

Kurra said that even as the spread slows down, another spike could be seen if precautions don’t continue.

So far, more than 22,000 people in Pennington County have been vaccinated.

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