No stay-at-home order for Sioux Falls but additional steps likely to help health care facilities handle the COVID-19 peak Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A stay-at-home order for the City of Sioux Falls isn’t necessary now based on COVID-19 modeling impact in the city, health care and city officials said in a Friday city council meeting.

The nearly four hour meeting started at 2 p.m. and concluded with the council members agreeing to consider options or measures to continue to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Sioux Falls. Possible options would be discussed at the April 21 meeting. Options would not include a stay-at-home measure.

Mayor Paul TenHaken said based on data and a model for the city he saw Friday morning, it is time to pivot on his recommendation for a stay-at-home order for the city because a new COVID-19 model shows measures have been working to delay and reduce demand on hospitals.

Still, the city cannot relax because then the COVID-19 cases could overwhelm hospitals, TenHaken said.

TenHaken called for city council members to suggest policies and ideas that would help with COVID-19 mitigation. TenHaken’s suggestions included addressing problems where people are still gathering in mass or at businesses that may need to use better social distancing measures or take temperatures of employees or requiring the public to wear masks when they enter businesses. It could be an amendment to the existing no lingering ordinance.

Dr. Jeremy Cauwels from Sanford said if the city does not make any changes and the public can maintain a 25% reduction in social interaction through measures such as social distancing, Sanford and Avera would be able to handle the peak in hospitalizations, demand for ICU and non-ICU beds and ventilators. That includes handling COVID-19 patients and patients admitted with heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses, he said.

“The instant we take our foot off the brake, we lose our ability to handle capacity,” Cauwels said.

“We’re in a sweet spot now,” said Dr. Amy Elliot of Avera Health. But “what changes could we possible make (to do more to reduce demand)?”

The new sweet spot could be a 35% reduction in social interaction which would additionally mitigate the impact on hospitals in Sioux Falls, according to the COVID-19 model developed by the city and its partners.

Health care representatives at the meeting said they’d welcome additional measures to help reduce the demand for hospitalization and ventilators.

Yet, TenHaken said, Sanford does not believe a stay-at-home order is needed, but Avera would support it if the city passed it.

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