PIERRE, South Dakota — Coronavirus infections are ravaging South Dakota, where more than half of tests have come back positive for weeks.
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem won’t issue a mask mandate but suggests smaller gatherings “may be smarter this year.”
Some governors who for months echoed President Donald Trump’s criticism of measures to control the coronavirus are now relenting, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who recently ordered the use of masks statewide.
Republican and Democratic governors from several Midwestern states issued a joint video urging people to say home for Thanksgiving and wear masks to slow the spread of the virus until a vaccine is widely available.
Hospitals in many states are running out of beds and are short on nurses, including in the states where governors are reluctant to act.
“We know what will happen. We know that three to four weeks from Thanksgiving, we will see an exacerbation of the outbreaks,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
CDC scientists believe about 40% of infected people don’t have obvious symptoms but can still spread the virus.
The U.S. leads the world with 11.9 million cases and more than 254,000 deaths.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.