- Associated Press - Monday, April 27, 2020

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Gov. Kristi Noem said she will release what she called a back-to-normal plan for South Dakota on Tuesday, and also hopes that a shuttered pork processing plant that was the site of a cluster of COVID-19 cases will present a plan for reopening this week.

Noem didn’t provide details of her plan on Monday, but said there would be some changes and recommendations for going forward. Noem acknowledged that as more people resume activities in the state, the coronavirus will continue to spread.

“This virus will spread more. There will be more positives, which is just a fact that we need to realize will happen,” she said, later adding: “If you are concerned about getting sick in the coming days, just know that you can still stay home.”

South Dakota reported 33 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday and no additional deaths. The state has seen a total of 2,245 coronavirus cases, and 11 deaths overall.

More than 1,000 of the state’s cases are tied to the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, which closed indefinitely. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control visited the plant last week and issued some recommendations for reopening. Noem said Monday that she’s hopeful the company will provide more information, and possibly even reopen, this week.

“We are hopeful they will open as soon as possible and as soon as it is safe for their employees to be working there,” Noem said. “We will be supporting them in testing and making sure that those guidelines were put into place.”

When asked by email if Smithfield had a date for reopening, Keira Lombardo, executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance said the company received the report last Thursday and “will thoroughly and carefully examine the report point by point and respond in full once our assessment is complete.”

Earlier Monday, state epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said officials anticipate the number of new cases among individuals at Smithfield, or any closed business, will become fewer over time as potential transmission at the workplace is curbed while the businesses are not operating.

Health officials said 61 people were hospitalized Monday, and a total of 150 people have been hospitalized since the outbreak began. A total of 1,316 people in South Dakota have recovered.

The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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