At Monument Health, COVID-19 testing is being increased

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 3:28 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire in the state of South Dakota, and healthcare workers are feeling the pressure.

Monument Health is expanding its testing capabilities.

The surge of the Omicron variant in South Dakota has everyone on edge. Hospital and ICU beds are filling up, and healthcare professionals are hard at work to mitigate the spread.

Emily Leech, Laboratory Director at Monument Health, said that now that the variant is here, people are testing at much higher volumes than last year.

“This past week, we’ve done over 4,600 tests, and 1,755 of those were positive in the last seven days,” Leech said. “So, we’re sitting at a 38.2% positivity rate within Monument Health, which is the highest we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Nearly all available adult hospital beds and ICU beds are filled, and the most at-risk patients are the ones being disproportionally affected.

Dr. Shankar Kurra said that we owe it to the very young and elderly to use mitigation efforts like wearing masks and getting vaccinated.

“Both these groups are vulnerable, the 0-5 because they’re not eligible to vaccinate, and the 65 and older, especially those with underlying conditions are at extreme risk with or without vaccination. I cannot stress this enough.”

Kurra also emphasizes the importance of getting a booster shot if you’ve completed your vaccination series.

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