SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls metropolitan area is in a good place right now when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic but that doesn’t mean public health will stop watching the numbers, local public health director Jill Franken said at a Sioux Falls City Council information meeting Tuesday afternoon.
“This is not the end game,” Franken said. “We are feeling grateful for where we are at now.”
The 14-day trend in COVID-19 cases in the counties of Minnehaha, Lincoln, McCook and Turner have reached a low plateau, Franken said. Those four counties make up the Sioux Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines show the Sioux Falls MSA needs to be below 26 cases per day per capita, Franken said.
“We’re sitting under 26. We’re really grateful for that,” Franken said.
Although on Tuesday, the Sioux Falls MSA had 24 cases that is still below 26. Cases would need to be at 26 or above for at least several days for a trend to be identified.
Other good numbers include hospitalizations of 20 to 30 per day and a low positive percentage, Franken said.
The health department tracks positive percentage rates weekly. Hospitals are required to report positive COVID-19 cases each day but negative tests can be reported weekly, she said.
For that reason, it’s more accurate to track the positive percentage each week so there aren’t big dips and valleys in the percentage, Franken said. Percent positive is the number of positive tests in relationship to the total number of tests.
The CDC says the positive percentage should not be higher than in the 10 to 12% range. The Sioux Falls MSA positive percentage was slightly below 5% for the week ending July 1.
Although the number of cases in individuals 80 and over is not high that age group still has the highest death rate, Franken said. There is no local age breakdown but Franken said the state data applies to the Sioux Falls area.
The lower number of COVID-19 cases shows that vulnerable population is following COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
“We don’t want those people succumbing to COVD-19,” Franken said.
The good numbers mean officials can take a pause and reinvigorate before whatever comes next, Franken said.
What comes next is still unknown.
Franken said the holiday weekend included events and likely many family gatherings.
In an interview with KELOLAND News last week, Franken said the next few weeks in July would be important in relation to the pandemic.
Officials will continue to watch Sioux Falls area coronavirus cases but also those in western Minnesota, northwest Iowa, northeast Nebraska and west river in South Dakota, she said.
Sioux Falls is not in a bubble as people from those other areas travel to Sioux Falls to shop and for other activities, Franken said.
Also, while there is a worldwide gallop toward finding a coronavirus vaccine, Franken said, she has not heard of any definitive timeline.
“It would be wonderful by early 2021 to be giving a vaccination…,” Franken said.
City and health officials also continue to work with businesses and organizations through the SOAR program.
Franken said 80 on-site visits have been made to businesses and organizations to help them address the response to coronavirus response.
SOAR has also made 250 referrals by phone and email to help businesses and organizations with COVID-19 questions.
SOAR has also received 100 complaints such as people not wearing masks or not social distancing. Franken said officials then talk with businesses and organizations about COVID-19 guidelines and complaints.