VERMILLION, S.D. – Jeff Wesner, Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of South Dakota Department of Biology, discussed the data behind the COVID-19 pandemic in South Dakota on the podcast Credit Hour.
“While I hope we are past the worst point, I also thought that in July. Whether we’ve reached our peak is essentially up to us,” said Wesner. “Today, the death rates in South Dakota are higher than they were in the spring and summer. The number are down relative to where they were, but the numbers were so bad, they’re not where they need to be.”
Wesner earned his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Oklahoma and M.S. in biology from Western Carolina University. Wesner traditionally studies fish ecology, but he started to analyze COVID-19 data for South Dakota to determine its severity in the state in order to help public health officials combat the pandemic.
“Testing was so sporadic, we gave up trying to track and predict the number of positive cases reported,” said Wesner. “We began tracking the number of hospitalization and deaths—the things we were really worried about happening in order to predict how many hospital beds we would need.”
Credit Hour is the University of South Dakota’s podcast highlighting the achievement, research and scholarship of its staff, students, alumni and faculty. Follow Credit Hour on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and www.usd.edu/podcast.