The Latest: Medical group says COVID-19 response not enough
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak in South Dakota (all times local):
The largest medical advocacy group in South Dakota said on Thursday Gov. Kristi Noem is not doing enough to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The South Dakota Medical Association, which advocates for physicians in the state, sent a letter to the governor asking her to close restaurants, bars and other non-essential businesses. It also said she should halt all elective procedures to conserve medical supplies.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge to our state and we must take proactive steps to prevent further community spread," said Robert Summerer, the group's president.
The Republican governor has recommended businesses to limit gatherings to 10 or fewer, but left the enforcement of that up to counties and cities.
Unemployment filings in South Dakota surged to 1,703 last week as COVID-19 spread in communities in South Dakota, state officials announced on Thursday.
The number is nearly a nine-fold increase from the previous week. Employers across the country have laid off workers due to the economic downturn from the coronavirus, prompting nearly 3.3 million Americans to apply for unemployment last week.
“A large number of employers are announcing COVID-19 related layoffs, so we anticipate the number of new unemployment claims will continue to rise,” said state Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman.
The state's call center for filing unemployment claims has been swamped with calls.
Ellsworth Air Force Base has declared a public health emergency in order to give its commander additional authority to enforce social distancing strategies due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials said the declaration also better aligns the base with national guidance.
South Dakota health officials say the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 rose to 41 Wednesday, but no cases have been reported on the base.
The commander could expand the civilian leave policy and further restrict base access under the declaration.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Leaders encouraged base families to follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, and practice social distancing and good personal hygiene.