As states deal with or prepare for the spread of the coronavirus, reports of empty shelves in stores and shortages of some products are beginning to increase. Even places of worship are discontinuing some practices until the threat of infection passes.
South Dakota health officials say the state has the ability to test about 900 people for the coronavirus. To date, no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surfaced in South Dakota. The Department of Health says it tested five people so far and all were negative. Department spokesman Derrick Haskins says the state has about 1900 tests for the virus. And since an individual would need to undergo a minimum of two of the tests, including an oral and a nasal swab, the state can test about 900 people. Haskins tells the Argus Leader that anyone who suspects they have been infected should contact their healthcare provider by phone before going to a hospital or clinic.
Meanwhile, South Dakota health officials will consider shutting schools if an outbreak is detected. The state’s had no confirmed cases, but officials in charge of preparations say the situation is evolving rapidly. Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said they are assuming infections are inevitable. The department is hosting regular webinars for physicians and encouraging people to take precautions like washing their hands and getting flu vaccines in order to free up hospital beds in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.
Universities in South Dakota are canceling overseas trips and students are coming home early from study abroad programs because of concerns over the coronavirus. South Dakota State University announced Wednesday that all school-sponsored international travel would be canceled. It affects about 15 study abroad programs planned for the spring and summer terms including a spring break trip to Italy, the epicenter of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak where more than 100 people have died and more than 3,000 have been infected. Two South Dakota State students are being brought home from their current studies in Italy.