Hospital systems have scrambled to make beds and staff available for COVID-19 patients. But the hospital systems’ capacity also depends on doctors and nurses being available to staff the beds.
Monument Health hospitals, which serve the western part of the state, announced Friday that it is “experiencing stressed capacity.” The system has hired more staff to help deal with the influx of patients, but said there is a nationwide shortage of nurses available. Many health care workers have also been infected from community spread.
“At this time, our limiting factor is not beds – it’s staffing,” said John Pierce, president of the Rapid City hospital.
Meanwhile, health officials are launching 10 surge testing sites around the state. Surgeon General Jerome Adams visited one of the sites in Pierre and met with health officials.
Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said Adams encouraged people to take precautions like wearing a mask, washing their hands and staying 6 feet away from others, but did not push for mask mandates.
In Sioux Falls, the largest city in the state, the City Council will likely make a decision on a mask requirement in indoor public places on Tuesday night. But Mayor Paul TenHaken has said he would vote against a mask mandate if he’s called upon to break a tie vote.