SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The last time Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken had a news conference about the coronavirus pandemic the metro area had 29 new cases of COVID-19 and 33 people in the hospital. That was on August 17
As of October 4, when the city announced its next briefing, the area had 116 new COVID-19 cases and 109 people in the hospital. The area has 1,105 active cases as of Oct. 4 for 426 active cases per 100,000. The numbers for Oct. 4 and Aug. 17 are from the city of Sioux Falls COVID-19 dashboard and the South Dakota Department of Health.
TenHaken and Jill Franken, the director of Sioux Falls Health Department, have set a 1:30 p.m. news conference for Monday. A Sunday news release about the conference said “presenters will provide a COVID-19 community response update that includes current case counts, community mitigation efforts, and a message from health care partners.”
The news release did not say if the city will consider any specific actions in response to the growing COVID-19 case numbers in the Sioux Falls metro area.
During the Aug. 17 news conference, TenHaken said at that point no restrictions were needed as hospitalization levels had not grown at the same rate as the percent positive of cases.
As to what would cause the city to consider a mask mandate, TenHaken said in the Aug. 17 news conference that a climbing percent positive COVID-19 rate combined with a climbing hospitalization rate would be a reason to consider it.
“One number we’re watching…is that 40 hospitalization threshold,” Ten Haken said on Aug. 17. If Sanford and Avera each had 40 hospitalizations that would be a key factor in considering any COVID-19 restrictions. “That kind of enters us into another threshold…,” he said.
Yet, he said, it would hard for him to envision any return to restrictions at businesses or gatherings that happened early in the pandemic.
Avera and Sanford health care providers have said in multiple KELOLAND News stories that local hospitals and those within their systems have capacity to handle individuals who need to be hospitalized because of COVID-19.
The metro area’s percent positive rate, which is the number of positive cases in relation to the number of conducted tests for that day, seven-day or 14-day period was 12.3% for the week ending Aug. 15.
The area’s percent positive rate was 13.3% for the week ending Oct. 3. However, on Sept. 25, state officials said dozens of COVID-19 negative tests that had not been assigned counties were assigned counties for that day’s report. The new assignments could skew the data for the week and day, officials said. Minnehaha was assigned a considerable number of negative tests, which could have lowered the percent positive rate for the week ending Oct. 3.
The percent positive rate for the prior week ending Sept. 25 was 17.5%.
Deaths have also increased since the August news conference when there were 68. The city’s dashboard lists 87 deaths as of Oct. 4.
The Sioux Falls area had 8,756 confirmed cases as of Oct. 4. About 1,100 of the total COVID-19 cases in Sioux Falls were connected to the outbreak at Smithfield Foods earlier this year, according to DOH and federal officials.
The city’s data includes the counties of Minnehaha and Lincoln, in which Sioux Falls is located but also McCook and Turner counties as part of the metro area.
McCook County had one death as of Aug. 17 and had one as of Oct. 4.
Turner County had one death as of Aug. 17 and four as of Oct. 4.
McCook County had 36 active cases as of Aug. 17 and 127 as of Oct. 4.
Turner County had 60 active cases as of Aug. 17 and 185 as of Oct. 4.
The city’s dashboard focuses on the Sioux Falls area data but COVID-19 cases are also increasing in counties in nearby states such as Iowa.
Sioux Falls is regional retail and work hub, which draws shoppers and workers from outside the four main metro counties including northwest Iowa.
Jennie Doyen, the marketing and communications director for the Great Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, said, “Sioux Falls draws people from around the tri-state region for shopping and entertainment. We don’t put a number or radius on it, but it is safe to say that people living within a 60 mile radius tend to travel to Sioux Falls more frequently than those who live greater distances.”
That 60 mile radius includes towns in eastern South Dakota as well as counties in southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa.
Teri Schmidt of Experience Sioux Falls said at a Sept. 15 meeting that 1.8 million visitors from at least 50 miles away came to Sioux Falls in 2019. The city had 1.3 million non-overnight visitors in 2018, according to the organization’s 2018 annual report. Shopping attracts visitors but so do events such as concerts and conventions.
Lyon County, Iowa, had a percent positive rate of 29.1% as of Oct. 4, according to the Iowa Department of Health website. Lyon County had 431 total cases as of Oct. 4. Rock Rapids, Iowa, is about 32 miles from Sioux Falls, using Iowa State Highway 9 and South Dakota State Highway 42.
Sioux County, Iowa, had a percent positive rate of 27% as of Oct. 4. Sioux County had 1,889 total COVID-19 cases.
Depending on the route, Sioux Center, in Sioux County, is about 56 to 60 miles from Sioux Falls.
Pipestone County, Minnesota, had 275 cases and 14 total deaths as of Oct. 4, according to the Minnesota Department of Health website. Rock County, Minnesota, had 192 cases and one death.