Avera Health Requires Vaccinations For Employees, Volunteers

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Health officials on Tuesday reported two additional deaths from COVID-19 and the largest number of infected people on ventilators at South Dakota hospitals since last year.

According to the state Department of Health, there are 453 new infections. Tuesday's report doesn't include Labor Day or results from weekend testing which will be reported on Wednesday.

The new cases bring the total number of positive test results to 134,308. One person who died was in his or her 50s and the other in the 70s. One was a resident of a long-term care facility.

Fifty-eight of 213 people hospitalized were in intensive care, and 45 were on ventilators. Twenty-nine of the patients on ventilators were at Monument Health’s Rapid City hospital.

Meanwhile, Sioux Falls-based Avera Health announced Tuesday that it will require full vaccination for its physicians, employees and volunteers by Dec. 1. The policy also includes students with rotations at Avera, contracted workers and vendors.

“As a health care ministry, Avera is called upon to provide a safe and protective environment for our patients, their families and our employees. This is consistent with our mission and values,” said David Erickson, chief medical and innovation officer in the news release.

The majority of Avera employees are already vaccinated for COVID-19, and a majority of employees support requiring vaccination, the regional health care system said.

Avera Health has more than 300 locations in 100 communities throughout five states, including South Dakota and North Dakota.