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Iowa Hospitals Say Sioux Falls, Sioux City Not Able to Take More Acute Coronavirus Cases

Team Noem and her trembling captive health officials are having trouble admitting that coronavirus patients are filling up South Dakota hospitals and forcing some patients to go out of state for treatment:

John Bjorkman lives in De Smet. He tested positive for COVID-19 last week and ended up in the hospital on Sunday. There, he took a turn for the worse.

“[I was] really working hard for every breath I could get,” he says. “So on Tuesday morning, the nurse practitioner called Sioux Falls and visited with them, and they had no beds available.”

Bjorkman was airlifted to the Avera hospital in Marshall, Minnesota. Social media posts say patients in Huron and some west-river communities are also being diverted out of state, though its unclear how many.

State Secretary of Health Kim Maslam-Rysdon calls those social media reports untrue rumors.

“We do not have any information that indicates people are being transferred out of state,” she said in a press call on Thursday.

The Department of Health reports statewide hospital capacity on its website. Secretary Malsam-Rysdon says there are 1,043 hospital beds still available around the state, and 101 of the state’s 245 ICU beds.

She did not directly address hospital capacity in Sioux Falls. Avera will not release numbers, and Sanford has not responded to a request for this story [Jackie Hendry, “Mixed Messages on Hospital Capacity After Patient Airlifted Out of State,” SDPB, 2020.09.24].

Iowa’s Orange City Area Health System addresses that local capacity. OC says larger hospitals in Sioux Falls and Sioux City are full:

Each of the four Sioux County hospitals – Hawarden Regional Healthcare, Hegg Health Center, Sioux Center Health, and OCAHS – are currently caring for COVID-positive inpatients. Some of the more acute patients who would typically be transferred to larger hospitals (in Sioux Falls and Sioux City) are being cared for locally due to a full capacity in those hospitals. In addition, each of the county health systems is experiencing some level of staffing challenges because of employees being quarantined [Orange City Area Health System, “Sioux County Healthcare and Education Leaders Meet to Discuss Covid-19,” 2020.09.25].

So, Team Noem, that’s a social media post directly from an Iowa hospital system. Are they spreading untrue rumors, too?


  1. mike from iowa 2020-09-25 13:11

    Moving patients out of state will make Northern Mississippi’s drumpf disease rates drop.

  2. jerry 2020-09-25 14:55

    Time to build those tents and get the death coolers ready for occupancy. What a failed pos of a governor we have here. GNOem needs to just get out of the state completely and go on the trump virus tour with the rest of the losers. We would be better served in her absence. What about the other idiot, Rhoden? Is he still on a bender with the lobbyists or has he sobered up yet. Sutton should come in a run the place properly.

  3. jerry 2020-09-25 15:00

    Don’t blame me, I voted SUTTON! Keep those schools open and all the school activities going as well. Then we can beg New York and California for bed space for our misguided adventure in listening to a failure of a party and their governor. 4 decades of republican failure is now clear to see and death is looking back at us.

  4. Francis Schaffer 2020-09-25 15:26

    I like the comment, ‘untrue rumors’. Not sure if that is redundant or not. Did anyone from SD government verify the untrue rumor or did Kristi just tell them it isn’t so?

  5. jerry 2020-09-25 16:39

    The pre-existing conditions of the trump virus survivors will haunt us for decades. We can only hope that the dismantling of the ACA will be short lived until January 2021 when Democrats save our sorry arse’s.

  6. james 2020-09-25 17:28

    Kristi wants to pretend that the only thing that matters is hospital capacity. If we now have four hundred cases a day and just one percent die, we will have four people dying on an average day because of her policies.

    Our cases have more than tripled and that is all on her. She wants to be the national queen of the anti-science crowd at the expense of South Dakota lives.

    Hospital capacity may or may not be exceeded, but she is getting people killed. And thousands are sick. That, we know for sure.

  7. Debbo 2020-09-25 18:23

    (Just for Mike.)


    “Regulators are cracking down on businesses that were cavalier with the lives and health of their employees, with Iowa slamming a meatpacking plant with a large coronavirus outbreak with a citation. The outbreak resulted in 338 of the plant’s 850 workers testing positive, which is 80 higher than previously acknowledge. Naturally, the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration was prepared to drop the hammer, slamming Iowa Premium Beef with an earth-shattering fine of… $957. As if that were not bad enough, the paltry fine was double that until Iowa’s OSHA administrator stepped in. Literally the idiots who faked the fish had to pay more in penalties.

    Ryan J. Foley, The Associated Press”

    From Numlock News by Walt Hickey

    (Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.)

  8. mike from iowa 2020-09-25 18:27

    Thanks for the it doesn’t surprise me surprise, Debbo.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-09-25 18:31

    Evidently Sanford doesn’t hold an iron grip on the free speech and public conscience of its employees in North Dakota. In Bismarck, workers at Sanford and another hospital are telling the press that coronavirus is pushing their facilities to the limit:

    Employees for Sanford Health and CHI St. Alexius Health in Bismarck said that an increasing number of COVID-19 cases are taking up hospital resources.

    Dr. David Field told the task force that Sanford held nine patients in the emergency room Thursday night because there weren’t enough beds to admit them.

    “We have to take care of our COVID folks, but it’s starting to displace our other care,” Field said.

    Raumi Kudrna of CHI St. Alexius Health said the hospital has 25 to 30 COVID-19 patients a day on average and admits one new patient for every one discharged.

    She also said that this week the hospital had to defer elective procedures that would require hospitalization.

    “This is huge, and this is not just happening in Burleigh-Morton counties,” Kudrna said. “People don’t quite understand until they have a loved one who needs health care or hospitalization just how stretched our resources are right now” [Sam Nelson, “Local Hospitals Nearing Capacity Due to Pandemic,” Bismarck Tribune, 2020.09.25].

    It’s a good thing for Governors Burgum and Noem the pandemic and all of its harms were inevitable. I sure wouldn’t want to be to blame for things going to heck in a handbasket like they appear to be going.

  10. Scott 2020-09-25 18:40

    Just because you have open beds does not mean there is staff, supplies, meds and so forth to take care of more patients.

    I can remember back a few years ago where a family member had to wait several hours in the ER. The nursing floor was short of staff and needed to bring in more staff before my family member could be moved from the ER to a regular room.

  11. Roger Beranek 2020-09-25 21:16

    James, so far it isn’t 1% fatality rate in SD, its 0.18% The state has been stuck around 2.4 deaths/day since April, even as the number of infections doubled.

    Cory, transferring patients doesn’t necessarily mean capacity has been reached (numbers aren’t expected to climb much so even if it was close to capacity it isn’t doomsday. ) One of the lessons in Italy was that locations with increasing infection rates should disperse the caseload to other hospitals that have more capacity early on, before a potential surge overwhelms and you get unnecessary deaths.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-09-25 22:51

    KSFY notices that the Orange City Health System has revised its blog post to say the following:

    “Each of the four Sioux County hospitals – Hawarden Regional Healthcare, Hegg Health Center, Sioux Center Health, and OCAHS – are currently caring for COVID-positive inpatients. Some of the more acute patients who would typically be transferred to larger hospitals (in Sioux Falls and Sioux City) are being cared for locally due to increased demand. Sioux Falls-area hospitals have assured Sioux County health systems that they continue to accept critical COVID-19 patients, and it is well within their ability to do so. In addition, each of the county health systems is experiencing some level of staffing challenges because of employees being quarantined.”

    Sounds like some SF hospital honchos don’t like bad press coming from their Iowa competitors… or in this case, the hospitals in Iowa that are having to pick up the slack that the hub hospitals can’t take due to South Dakota’s failure to contain the pandemic.

  13. Rick S 2020-09-25 23:14

    James is correct on the percentage according to SD DOH site. 216 deaths from 20,000 positive cases is over 1% fatalities per positive test and since the deaths occur usually several days after any positive test it skews it even lower than it really is.
    Opening the schools with no mask mandate is providing the mechanism that covid-19 lacked to spread earlier in the year and summer in South Dakota. The two situations that bring a rural state’s communities physically together are schools and church events. Both were closed in late Spring and it made us look like we were invincible and allowed Noem to project that falsehood.
    Compare the two comparable size counties of Brookings and Codington. Throughout the summer both counties had similar low numbers of positive tests, but Brookings School system decided to require masks and Watertown opted for the Noem non-mandate mask, wash your hands lingo. With influx of SDSU students added to Brookings population their numbers climbed and the city instituted a mandatory mask in public policy. Watertown did nothing. Now Brookings trend is down for positive cases and Watertown School classroom and all activities have been cancelled for a second week as Codington’s positive numbers rise to 3rd highest of active in State.

  14. Mr Sol 2020-09-26 06:16

    Seems to me, the only point of your post was fear mongering. Just saying…

  15. jerry 2020-09-26 08:08

    Fear mongering? Looks to me like public information that we should be aware of when you don’t take wearing masks, washing your nasty hands (like third graders) and social distancing seriously. So now, if you happen to have an emergency or sickness or trump virus (some docs in Monument are not in networks), you may not know where in a two or three state area you will be shipped for treatment. Maybe Gillette, you will know when you get wherever it is they send you. Good luck settling up on that ambulance bill.

    Will they be in network? That is kind of a big deal that you have no control over. Ask your neighbors how that out of network thingy works if you haven’t experienced it yourself. This is all thanks to an incompetent governor and her lazy arse republican legislators. In the meantime, wash your hands, wear a clean mask, and keep your distance by staying home and not going out for that beer or burger. Grab a sixer, some burger and buns then kick back and watch some Netflx or learn something.

  16. james 2020-09-26 08:52

    Roger Beranek writes: “James, so far it isn’t 1% fatality rate in SD, its 0.18%”

    I was specifically talking about the percentage of positive cases being reported that result in death. 216 deaths of 20,554 positive cases is about one percent. (And more deaths still will occur from Covid out of that population of positive cases.)

    Sure, many cases are not identified, but that was not a part of my argument.

    Those without symptoms matter when talking about achieving herd immunity which may or may not be possible and would cost many times more lives. Why would we even aim for that if a vaccine is in the works and masks are effective?

  17. james 2020-09-26 10:08

    “It’s just like the flu”. I have heard it. I am sure many of you have as well. But it is not true.

    The flu will typically kill about 40,000 Americans a year. Covid, despite all efforts to stop it’s spread, has already killed 200,000. It is more deadly, on top of being more transmissible. Without mitigation efforts, mortality figures would have been far higher.

    What will be the ultimate death rate from Covid when final figures for asymptomatic people are included? It should be less than one percent but don’t forget to look at the numbers of deaths. And those will long-term symptoms.

    As far as I can tell, the flu doesn’t compare.

  18. Richard Schriever 2020-09-26 10:53

    james said: ““It’s just like the flu”. I have heard it. I am sure many of you have as well. But it is not true. ….. As far as I can tell, the flu doesn’t compare.”

    As way of a reminder – Polio is a virus. It leaves people with life-long pre-existing conditions. Just ask Mitch McConnel, who contracted polio as a child and STILL SUFFERS from it – both physically and emotionally.

  19. james 2020-09-26 11:16

    If Kristi Noem deliberately encourages our cases to rise with her group activities and an anti-mask policy, is she responsible for the rise in cases and deaths? She damn well is.

    Two months ago, she bragged about “doing everything wrong” according to medical experts. Back then, we had fifty or sixty cases a day. Now… as high as 450 or more a day! Just stunning ignorance.

    Thousands of extra illnesses a month and up to four additional deaths per day, on average, lie ahead. We had eight South Dakota deaths the day before yesterday and six yesterday.

    Until she gets a clue, there will be many more deaths. Real South Dakotans dying. Wow. What a record.

  20. Jake 2020-09-26 12:04

    Remember, South Dakotans, when in February the virus was kinda new in the news and our movie-star governor wanted, needed some attention she was all over us on TV shutting down schools, colleges and warning everyone we had to “flatten the curve!” ?? Now, when REAL leadership is needed, she is either horseback chasing buffalo or a flag-bearer for rodeos or else in some other state campaigning for her hero Trump! No reporting on the AG killing a man with a car and still maintaining “We’re right where we thought we’d be” with more people dying every day and contacting the virus.

  21. mike from iowa 2020-09-26 13:14

    210k deaths by Sunday evening is easily attainable this weekend. We should handily bypass 209k before suppertime.

  22. kj trailer trash 2020-09-26 15:39

    3 out of the last 4 days KovidKristi has sat by on her high horse as South Dakota has set new records for most new positive cases of Covid-19 in one day. Today’s big winner is 579 new cases, a whopping 25% jump from the previous record, of Thursday, I believe, of 463. And, Bison Roundup Barbie, the number of current hospitalizations for it went up by 9%, from 194 to 213. “Only” 2 new deaths, down from the 8s and 7s and 6s we’ve had this week.
    Also, “what you said” to MFA, James, Jake, RS, or anyone I agreed with and missed.

  23. Moses6 2020-09-26 16:15

    What a failure the she has been the subsidy queen, rides again.

  24. jerry 2020-09-26 17:52

    Has anyone noticed how unfazed we are about 210,000 deaths from this trump virus? It’ should make us pause and ask why media is so quiet about all of this death and sickness that surrounds us. Instead, the media is focused on football along with continued gathering events that will bring more death and destruction. We are now an officially numb nation.

  25. james 2020-09-26 17:56

    When the virus first threatened us, Kristi was all about the data and science and lowering the curve to protect hospitals from being overrun. But a few months ago, she discovered that fighting the medical profession was making her popular with the Republican base. Since then, she has been encouraging this rise in cases to the maximum tolerable. Raising the curve as only Kristi can.

    It’s deadly and just plain bizarre.

  26. Francis Schaffer 2020-09-26 19:17

    I believe those advocating herd immunity should be given the virus so they can get us closer to having this ‘just disappear’

  27. jerry 2020-09-26 19:28

    You may have something mfi. Say 160,00 over 65 die, multiply that times $650.00 a month and what do you have? I would say the $650.00 a month is lowballing the Social Security payments. Somewhere at least 104,000,000 each month. Now keep going with it and you can see that this is money that the oligarchs will count as their own. Cagey barstards all. Think of the Medicaid savings as well. Yes, republicans are killing off old folks for their Social Security and Medicaid payments. We’re in the billions now with the blood money.

  28. mike from iowa 2020-09-26 19:44

    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    Beddy by time.

  29. jerry 2020-09-26 20:22

    mfi, hedge funds own the nursing homes so by getting rid of the Medicaid patients and going to private pay, they are gonna be doing very well. Good for them, as several nursing homes throughout the state were closing until the hedge funds came in and bought them up. It just gets slicker every day. Maybe when we hit a half million dead guys in a month or two, people will yawn and say something about Hillary’s emails or Benghazi.

  30. Debbo 2020-09-26 20:29

    I quit believing there were bridges the GOP simply would not cross a few months ago. Watching their neighbors die does not appear to affect them. The cult is too strong in them.

  31. cibvet 2020-09-26 23:41

    Looking at the bright side. The law of averages says most of these deaths are trumpists who don’t like being told what to do, like wearing a mask.
    Noem is supposedly applying the law of gravity here.(everything that goes up will eventually come down) and also noem physics that includes everything rising in number is a flattening of the curve.

  32. jerry 2020-09-27 08:34

    cibvet, Rapid City says they have 100 brand new beds with no waiting, so come on down, two for one Tuesday’s!! All 100 are available for the trump virus and that is why they were built. Clearly they need the superspreader events to justify the outlay of expense for this build. Cough on brothers and sisters while you are at these places, the trumpian economy depends on this. Death is profit!!

    BTW, republicans will eat their own for a buck, so they don’t care if they lose some voters as it’s all about the BILLIONS now and in the future being saved by their deaths. Some say a trumpian will go without a meal if that keeps a person of color or disabled or a woman, from having one slice of bread. If you add them all together, they will even miss two meals for that trifecta.

  33. jerry 2020-09-27 08:54

    55,000 confirmed in one day, still in phase one! Yikes About time to eliminate the ACA/Obamacare with the new ghoul on the Supreme Court to finally put people out on their own. Dog gone slackers. Affordable Health Care, is only for the wealthy. The rest, not so much.

    “Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise again, with the nation tallying a troubling 55,000 in a single day Friday.

    The hike follows a generally downward trend through August and early September. It was the highest single-day increase since Aug. 14, when the country reported 64,350 new cases over 24 hours.

    The U.S. has now recorded more than 7 million cases and more than 204,000 deaths. New cases are on the rise in 22 states as Americans head into fall and face an increasing likelihood of contagion indoors and a complicating flu season. Some states have set new records in recent days too.”

    Good news for GNOem though, South Dakota got recognized for the high numbers we have been reporting on the trump virus. Shs is now officially, a Proud Girl!

  34. grudznick 2020-09-27 09:08

    Even the Argus, a questionable yet mainstream professional media organization, should know not to take “stories” from social media. Social media is notoriously incorrect. The Hospital has now recanted, and like a real journalist the Argus has retracted. The Iowegian Hospital should now shut down its facebooking person’s account.

  35. Roger Beranek 2020-09-27 10:48

    The percentage you are using is of those that have been confirmed by tests in SD, which is not the total of people infected, thus you are exaggerating the death rate. The true number of infected is likely to be in the range of 114,000. You can also look at the overall progress of the disease including the increase in SD and where it peaked.

    This applies to the “troubling 55,000” number as well, which would be closer to 230,000, and while the number of deaths increased in the wave after restrictions were relaxed (thanks Texans!) the death rate has never approached the intensity it had in the upper northeast.

    Lastly, the herd immunity issue could be much more of a factor, both because of the high number of asymptomatic or mild infections, and because of T-cell natural resistance from other previous diseases.

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