Sept. 1, 2021
Sioux Falls is three to four weeks away from another peak of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, health officials predicted today.
Leaders from Avera and Sanford Health and the city of Sioux Falls provided an update to the community, encouraging vaccinations, masking and other mitigation efforts.
“The time to take action is now. No one wants to go through the trying times we experienced last year,” said Dr. Mike Wilde, Sanford’s chief medical officer.
“Given the alarming surge of COVID-19, we encourage our communities to escalate safety measures.”
At Sanford, the numbers among the vaccinated and unvaccinated are a stark contrast:
- 129 of 136 COVID patients in Sanford hospitals are unvaccinated.
- 35 of 37 in the intensive care unit are unvaccinated.
- 18 of 19 patients on ventilators are unvaccinated.
At Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, the average COVID-19 patient is 20 years younger than last year’s peak, said Dr. David Basel, vice president for clinical quality.
“Far and above, most of them are that unvaccinated population, though we are seeing a few breakthrough cases in our elderly population,” he said.
Kids showing cold-like symptoms such as a sore throat or runny nose need to stay home and be tested because “it very likely could be COVID,” Basel said.
Health officials encouraged masking in schools and distancing when possible.
They repeatedly asked for those who have not been vaccinated to get a vaccine as soon as possible.
“We cannot emphasize that enough. Vaccine is the way we get out of this situation,” city public heath director Charles Chima said. “Any concerns we have about side effects are far outweighed by what COVID does to your body. … It is not too late to get vaccinated.”
Interest in vaccination has picked up in recent weeks, health officials said. But those who have not received a vaccine, which is more than 40 percent of the eligible population in the area, should get it now before it becomes in greater demand as a booster, Basel said.
“We’ve got a window of opportunity where we’ve got plenty of vaccine supply. It’s easy. Once those booster doses start coming, we have huge interest in people wanting that third dose,” he said.
Both he and Wilde urged the community to take action, allowing hospitals to maintain capacity for those in need of non-COVID-related care. Staff are fatigued as well, after months of treating severely ill people during the pandemic.
“You can imagine the energy they’ve devoted to this,” Wilde said.
“We must get the spread under control. The majority of these cases are preventable. Mask back up, and get vaccinated.”