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Long-Term Care Facilities Show 90%+ Covid Vaccine Rates Save Lives

The South Dakota Highway Patrol see eleven preventable deaths so far this year, apparently just one more than last year, declares them “Far too many!” and exhorts us to “be better!” and take easy and free preventive measures:

South Dakota Highway Patrol, tweet on roads deaths and seat belts, 2022.02.11.
South Dakota Highway Patrol, tweet on roads deaths and seat belts, 2022.02.11.

54.6% of these eleven road deaths were not wearing a seat belt: that means six of those fatalities weren’t wearing seat belts but five were. Therefore, since you can still die wearing a seat belt, seat belts must not work, and we should join protests driven by foreign psyops to shut down cities and the economy until the government stops mandating these useless safety-theater props—

—or we should recognize that seat belts and laws requiring them save lives and add a couple seconds to each car trip by buckling up.

And if eleven deaths on the highways, three or four of which might have been prevented if the passengers had buckled up, are “Far too many!” and warrant our public protectors to tell us to take live-saving actions, then 164 deaths over the same period from a largely preventable disease ought to have our state officials hollering at the top of their lungs that we ought to take the surest preventive measures available to reduce those deaths.

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, South Dakota suffered 164 deaths from coronavirus from January 1 through February 7 this year, versus 215 covid deaths over the same period last year. Deaths among South Dakotans in nursing homes dropped to 17 so far this year compared to 67 over the same 38 days last year.

Deaths statewide from covid dropped by 51. Deaths in long-term care facilities dropped by 50. Take long-term care facilities out of the equation, and South Dakota is losing almost as many people now in the omicron surge as it did in the winter of 2021.

The 75% decrease in covid mortality among long-term care residents, some of the most vulnerable South Dakotans, accounts for almost all of the 24% decrease in mortality in the general population. The stark difference in nursing homes’ success and the rest of the population’s failure to bring down coronavirus deaths may be explained by the fact that nursing homes have gotten their residents and employees vaccinated and have taken other preventive measures more seriously than the rest of the state. Long-term care facilities were just getting their populations vaccinated last winter, and double-dose regimes wouldn’t have taken hold for many residents and workers until later in this particular January–early February reporting period. Long-term care provider Dow Rummel in Sioux Falls had 95% of its independent-living residents vaccinated by February 15 of last year; Dow Rummel went into this winter’s omicron surge with nearly all of their residents and 94% of their staff vaccinated. Dow Rummel has made it well past the vaccination rates of 70% to 80% that they cited last year as the range a population must reach to achieve “herd immunity”. 90% of Good Samaritan Society residents have gotten covid booster shots. The elderly in general have the highest vaccination rates: last month, the Department of Health reported 89% of folks 65 to 74 years old and 93% of those 75 and older had gotten at least one covid shot. South Dakota as a whole has seen only 70.48% of its population get one dose of coronavirus vaccine, 57.68% get a full series, and 31.31% get a booster dose.

And while vaccinated people can still catch and die from coronavirus, the most recent CDC data shows that the covid death rate among fully vaccinated Americans is 99% less than the death rate among unvaccinated Americans.

Add those lagging vaccine rates to less masking and more social gatherings, and we may have an explanation for why South Dakota’s nursing homes have been able to keep deaths during this winter’s omicron surge to only 25% of what they were over the same period last year, while South Dakota’s coronavirus deaths from January 1 through February 7 have been 76% of what they were over the same period last year.

164 coronavirus deaths so far in 2022 is less than 215 over the same five weeks last year, but it’s still far too many. If the general population had taken vaccines, masks, and safely distanced gathering as seriously as the long-term care facilities, we might have avoided 110 deaths. We might have saved 20 lives each week this year.

Save some lives: get your shots.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-02-12 07:59

    The deader Republicans are, the better.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-12 08:43

    We may attribute all of South Dakota’s improvement in preventing death from covid in this surge to the strict health protocols implemented at our long-term care facilities. Think how many lives we could save and how many expensive hospital bills and how much suffering we could avoid if we all showed similar good sense.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-12 08:59

    SDHP sees South Dakota getting a low rating for highway safety and doesn’t say, “Hey, drivers, we won’t impose any mandates; just exercise your freedom, make your own decisions based on your own selective reading of science, and do what you think is best for you.” SDHP responds with more direct advocacy… and the harm caused by not wearing seatbelts isn’t even contagious like coronavirus.

    Choosing not to wear a seat belt hurts only the chooser. Choosing not to get vaccinated or take other coronavirus precautions hurts and kills other people.

  4. John 2022-02-12 10:42

    Two thoughts: 1) South Dakota’s horrible traffic statistics (lack of wearing seat belts, motorcycle/ATV helmets, DUI, etc.) raises vehicle insurance rates for all of us. Present insurance models are algorithms based on residence, age, claim history, etc. Until Elon Musk disrupts the lazy vehicle insurance industry – using real, individualized driving data, we all suffer from South Dakota’s poor driving behaviors. (Tesla insurance is coming to all states, eventually; yet, its a laborious process since insurance is state regulated and Tesla is beginning in states having more Teslas since they are wired to the internet giving constant feedback on drivers. (One should expect that fleet operators will quickly jump to the Tesla insurance model to increase driver monitoring and reduce costs by up to 8-fold.))

    2) Finally elderly COVID deaths are coming down. Long COVID a huge concern and will likely impact the young, non-antivaxers, and incomplete vaxers for much of their lives. Here’s a snapshot of what COVID does to pregnant women.

    “We have never seen this level of destruction from an infectious illness before. It rendered the placenta unfit to carry out its duties,” said Dr. David Schwartz, a perinatal pathologist in private practice in Atlanta, who led the study. “These fetuses and newborns died from asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen.”
    “It’s almost the exact opposite of what we see in other infectious diseases like zika, rubella or syphilis,” he said. “It’s not the fetus that is being attacked and destroyed by the virus. It’s the placenta.”

    Snowjob noem’s immoral, reckless “freedom” is asphyxiating fetuses. Of course, if snowjob noem and her republicants actually cared about “life” they would pull out all the stops, mandating everyone get vaccinated.
    This article is but one of dozens of scientific works documenting long term effects of long COVID.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-12 11:56

    Fair point about the social impacts of bad driving habits, John! Certainly, bad driving like Jason Ravnsborg’s hurts and kills others and must be stopped. But do increased fatalities from lack of seat belt use drive up insurance rates significantly compared to all the other behaviors the cause accidents?

    I dread the data we’ll get on the long-term economic and social impacts of our failure to control infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from coronavirus. I suspect those long-term effects will wipe out any short-term, “no one else is open so let’s go to South Dakota” advantage our state may have derived from our reckless behavior.

  6. Jake 2022-02-12 15:27

    If ONLY the Noem administration had been 1/2 as concerned about preventing Covid deaths as it is about Hiway crash deaths, approximately 1500 South Dakotans would still be alive, enjoying our great ‘free’ state along with therest of us-and paying taxes and buying things too.
    I guess that staunch Democrats and thinking Republican’s “fall-back” position would be that a comforting fact is that the statistics show that way more Republicans die from this disease than do Democrats, because the data (scientific tho it may be) proves that the percentage of Democrats who take the ‘jab’ and conscientiously mask up is far higher than the Republicans do; hence, one easily can see WHY way more Republicans than Democrats die from Covid. Also improves the average intellect of the electorate, one could assume.
    Dark clouds perhaps do have silver linings, eh?

  7. Porter Lansing 2022-02-12 15:29

    America gets things done properly by cutting off highway funds to states that insist on being contrary to empirical evidence on safety. (seatbelts, drinking age, smoking laws, speed limits etc.)
    One MAGA’s mandate is another wise person’s safety intervention.

  8. jerry 2022-02-12 15:33

    Highway patrol is only interested in stopping marijuana from being legalized. They could give a hoot about traffic deaths or anything like that. If they are so concerned, lower the speed limits for one.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-12 15:38

    Another example of the Governor’s inconsistency by relying on whiz bang generalizations regarding personal choice (plenty of inconsistency there) and what she and her followers call) personal freedom (her inconsistency in this area is approaching legendary status). Governor Noem is an unlettered amateur at her job as Governor, starting over each day at square one and “making it up as she goes along”. A tragedy for South Dakota. We are paying with our lives.

  10. Mark Anderson 2022-02-12 19:50

    Come on real freedom is freedom from responsibility. Why wear a seat belt, why wear a mask, why get a shot? Enjoy your freedom and your early inheritance brought to you by covid.

  11. RS 2022-02-12 22:22

    Cory had question on insurance rates.
    Insurance companies keep very detailed records of what risk triggers a claim for everything. The insured’s past record of claims, past driving violations (like 20 speeding tickets), but also a big portion is where the insured lives. Yes, the state’s drivers overall compliance records of speed, DUI, seat belt, helmet, or stop sign violations. Then you have State road conditions (ice or fog prevalence), rural vs urban residence. There is even a different rate for each county in relation to the number of car/deer accidents. We are all in a pool and have to pay for the risk takers that may end up affecting us through no fault of our own.
    I am curious if anyone knows if your insurance company can deny a claim of injury or death to you caused by you not wearing a seat belt in SD since it is a State Law to wear one at all times in a vehicle?

  12. All Mammal 2022-02-13 04:31

    I suspect the true motivation for all the adamant ‘freedom convoy activism’ has nothing to do with personal convictions and everything to do with a bunch of fraidy-cats petrified of needles. Trypanophobia just isn’t as sexy as rebels with a cause.

    And the dirty hands doctrine is akin to why drug dealers don’t get sued when they sell fake dope or rip off their clients. Or when you get broadsided and the insurance of the driver at fault is off the hook for your doctor bill since you were committing a crime by not wearing your seat belt when struck.

    I don’t recall there being any unified resistance when seatbelts were mandated. Thank you for dissipating the shallow murk the squeamish guppies are wallowing in Mr. H.

  13. John 2022-02-13 08:25

    If South Dakota (and it’s Highway Patrol) gave a crap about highway safety they’d offer legislation to follow “radical” Utah with a 0.05 BAC limit.
    That’s a more-than-one-beer DUI.
    The Utah law reduced DUIs about 20% since implemented.

    Mark’s right; ‘it’s freedum FROM responsibility’.

  14. John 2022-02-14 18:33

    Follow ups on COVID vaccinations, COVID asphyxiation effects on fetuses and newborns, and long COVID. And that abortion thing.
    I’ll refrain from being Ms. Diana Crouch’s doctor from my couch, but you should consider her and her husbands dilemmas. Not that snowjob noem or the SD legislature would give crap.
    The Post put this on-line article above the fold. Mr. Crouch was adamantly anti-vax. Now pregnant Ms. Crouch has COVID . . . Texas has a 6-week no abortion law with about no exceptions . . . the state may be killing folks . . .

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