SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the country surpassed a grim milestone with more than 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, Sioux Falls Director of Public Health Jill Franken started her briefing of the Sioux Falls City Council recognizing the 406 people who died from the virus in Sioux Falls.
Franken then told members of the city council, she’d have better news in regards to new and active coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and vaccinations. She met with city leaders in an informational meeting for an hour on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are seeing some real stability,” Franken said. “The health systems are in a stable pattern.”
On Tuesday, the Sioux Falls area, considered Lincoln and Minnehaha Counties, reported 63 new cases, 574 active cases and 24 current hospitalizations. Franken noted the city also watches the positivity rate — the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are positive. Franken said that number was above 30% Nov. through Jan. For February, the positivity rate has remained at or below 20%.
Franken said there’s been a lot of attention on the COVID-19 variants. None have been reported in South Dakota at this time, but she noted state epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton has said the UK variant will likely become the dominant strain of COVID-19 by the end of March.
Councilor Alex Jensen asked Franken about the hospitalization rate. At the Nov. peak, hospitalizations were about 200 each day. On Tuesday, there were 24 hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Sioux Falls.
When asked about herd immunity, Franken said federal officallys are looking for 75-80 percent of the country to be vaccinated for herd immunity. She noted naturally immunity for people who already had COVID-19 isn’t the same as vaccines, especially against variants.
Council Rick Keiley pointed out health officials continue to learn more and more about the coronavirus, length of immunity and vaccine immunity. He said there’s still “a lot to learn.”
Vaccine update for Sioux Falls
For Sioux Falls, roughly 7% of the Minnehaha and Lincoln County population have had at least one dose of the vaccine. The state is receiving more than 17,000 doses of vaccine starting this week. That number does not include Indian Health Services, the Veterans Affairs system and the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program
The city of Sioux Falls will still be participating in an educational campaign for the COVID-19 vaccine. Franken said groups of people getting the vaccine right now have been eager and focused on getting it. The city campaign will be focused on people who will qualify when there’s more vaccine supply.
The city will have a fact-based campaign focused on common questions about the vaccine. There’ll be new art on the city’s website, digital billboards, social media and search retargeting. Franken said equity is the goal in vaccination.
City leaders have worked with people, who frequent the Union Gospel Mission, Bishop Dudley House or other homeless shelters, if they have qualified for the vaccine.
Councilor Janet Brekke announced she’s received her vaccination and spoke highly about the efficiency of the process. Kiley also said he recently got his vaccine and praised how easy it was.
Franken said she felt bad after she got the vaccine, but she said that was a sign her body was building up an immune response. She said she’s not heard any issues with allergic reactions or other problems from the vaccine.