Local News

(Dakota Radio Group News - Pierre, SD) Today’s (Sept. 21) update from the South Dakota Department of Health shows there are currently 154 active cases of COVID-19 in Hughes County-- 116 of them being inmates or staff at the State Women’s Prison in Pierre.


About one-fourth of the inmates have tested positive, but state epidemiologist Dr. Josh Clayton says “herd immunity” isn’t likely to happen at the facility.





According to the Mayo Clinic website, herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of it from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected, not just those who are immune.

State Health Secretary Kim Malsom-Rysdon says establishment of herd immunity is typically associated with mass vaccinations.





Clayton says herd immunity isn’t easily achieved in large populations.





But, Clayton says, there are still a lot of unknowns with COVID-19.





A statement from the Department of Corrections last week (Sept. 17) said infected individuals were put into isolation and close contacts are quarantined. Inmates in Pierre are not allowed to go out for work release or community service projects and itation and programming and contact with volunteers is suspended.


Inmates do have access to their tablets for phone calls and messaging and each
has been given two additional free phone calls per week. Video visitation is also


A Department of Corrections spokesman also says all inmates are required to wear masks and DOC staff is placing an extra emphasis on proper hygiene, cleaning and hand washing. DOC is continuing to follow recommendations from the Department of Health and the Centers of Disease Control guidelines.


Since April, the number of DOC inmates and staff being tested have been posted

each weekday on the DOC website. The link to the page is on the homepage of the DOC website at The South Dakota Department of Health provides COVID-19 case data broken down by age, sex, race/ethnicity and county of residence at


A statement from the Department of Corrections last week (Sept. 17) said inmates who have tested positive were moved to the Pierre Community Work Center, which is located east of the Women’s Prison. Inmates at PCWC who did not test positive were moved to the Women’s Prison. Inmates identified as close contacts are in quarantine at the Women’s Prison.