South Dakota reports 332 COVID-19 hospitalizations

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The number of people hospitalized by COVID-19 climbed to a new high in South Dakota on Wednesday as 332 people received hospital care.

Health officials also reported three more deaths from the virus, along with 582 more cases. The state has ranked second in the country for new cases per capita in the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. There were 1,086 new cases per 100,000 people, meaning that one in every 92 people in the state has been infected in the last two weeks alone.

The surge in cases has prompted the Department of Health to scale up its staff for contact tracing, activating National Guard members to work as contact tracing investigators. Health officials are relying on schools, tribes and some health care providers to assist contact tracing efforts, said Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon

She said the National Guard is also ready to set up 100-bed field hospitals, though they are not needed currently. The Department of Health reported that about 37% of general-care hospital beds and 33% of Intensive Care Units are available.

The state's two largest hospital systems have adjusted some of their elective procedures to free up space and staff to handle the influx of patients.