SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota currently has the ability to test fewer than 1,000 people for the COVID-19, the strain of coronavirus leading to a global outbreak, public health officials confirmed to KELOLAND News.
Reports of states across the county having enough kits to test for COVID-19 is causing political strain and public confusion, as health officials work to contain a virus and panic.
“Anybody that needs a test can have a test,” President Donald Trump said on Friday. “They’re all set. They have them out there. In addition to that, they’re making millions of more as we speak, but, as of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test, that’s the important thing. And the tests are all perfect.”
However, the statement from Trump directly contradicted a statement from his vice president, who is leading the nation’s task force.
“We trust in a matter of weeks, the coronavirus test will be broadly available to the public and available to any American that is symptomatic and has a concern,” Vice President Mike Pence also said Friday.
On Sunday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said the country had 75,000 tests available.
“No public health doctor who’s asked for a test has not been able to get a test,” Adams said Sunday.
The nation’s top doctor anticipated early this week there would be 2 million tests.
“By the end of the week through partnership with private industry, over four million tests available,” Adams said.
South Dakota has 1,900 tests available, according to state health officials. That’s enough to test 900 people because each patient tested for coronavirus typically receives two tests: a nose swab and throat swab.
For perspective that’s 0.01% of the South Dakota population, based on 2019 population estimates.
If the patient comes back positive, additional tests are completed.
South Dakota Department of Health Communications Director Derrick Haskins said people with concerns about COVID-19 symptoms should contact their doctor on the phone before going to a clinic or hospital.
“Please remember, not everyone with respiratory symptoms will or should be tested since influenza is also circulating,” Haskins said. “A patient’s travel history, exposure to a known case of COVID-19, and risk for severe infection will be considered by a healthcare provider before a test is ordered.”
The state confirmed it anticipates continuing to receive additional testing supplies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources.
One of those other sources could be Iowa-based Integrated DNA Technologies. The company is one part of the government’s effort to ramp up testing.
How testing works in South Dakota
This is what happens when a patient walks into a doctor’s office or hospital with potential symptoms or concerns:
First, the patient is masked and isolated in a private room or separate area and the Department of Health is called. Then, the patient is tested for the flu or RSV.
The state, with the CDC, has developed a priority level system for testing:
As of Monday evening, there were no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota. 11 people tested negative, according to department of health officials. We expect an update on Tuesday at 5 p.m. with the latest.
On Monday, KELOLAND News confirmed a meat processing plant in Huron quarantined a worker who returned from South Korea for two weeks.
Neighboring states are beginning to report presumptive positive cases.
Across the globe
On a global level, World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stopped short Monday of declaring COVID-19 a pandemic.
“Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real, but it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled. The bottom line is we are not at the mercy of the virus,” he said.
Some good news was released by the WHO on Monday. Ff about 80,000 people who have been sickened by COVID-19 in China, more than 70% have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.
The Associated Press reports, patients are typically released when they test negative twice for the virus within 24 hours, meaning they’re no longer carrying the virus, although some countries may be using a slightly different definition that may include when people have no more respiratory symptoms or a clear CT scan.
The World Health Organization said it could take considerably longer for people to be “recovered,” depending on the severity of the disease.
WHO also said it can take up to six weeks for people to fully recover from COVID-19 infections, which could include pneumonia and other respiratory problems in serious cases.