'Not a Surprise': 2 States Lead in COVID-19 Growth

South Dakota boasts a 17% positivity rate
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 12, 2020 2:00 PM CDT
'Not a Surprise': 2 States Lead in COVID-19 Growth
In this Aug. 24, 2020, file photo, Lindsey Helkenn, a medical lab technician from Spearfish, conducts a COVID-19 test in Sturgis, SD.   (Grace Pritchett/Rapid City Journal via AP, File)

Coronavirus infections in the Dakotas are growing faster than anywhere else in the nation, fueling impassioned debates over masks and personal freedom after months in which the two states avoided the worst of the pandemic, the AP reports. The argument over masks raged this week in Brookings, South Dakota, as the city council considered requiring face coverings in businesses. The city was forced to move its meeting to a local arena to accommodate intense interest, with many citizens speaking against it, before the mask requirement ultimately passed. Amid the brute force of the pandemic, health experts warn that the infections must be contained before care systems are overwhelmed.

North Dakota and South Dakota lead the country in new cases per capita over the last two weeks, ranking first and second respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. South Dakota has also posted some of the country's highest positivity rates for COVID-19 tests in the last week—over 17%— an indication that there are more infections than tests are catching. Infections have been spurred by schools and universities reopening and mass gatherings like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which drew hundreds of thousands of people from across the country. "It is not a surprise that South Dakota has one of the highest (COVID-19) reproduction rates in the country," said a Brookings City Council member. (One South Dakota county recently had a shocking 25.5% positivity rate.)

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