City considers new data modeling to mitigate COVID-19


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The Sioux Falls City Council is preparing to make a tough decision. As of Friday morning, the state had confirmed more than 1,400 cases of COVID-19. More than 1,200 of those cases are in the Sioux Falls area.

The state health department has confirmed 777 coronavirus cases are connected to the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls. That’s why the City Council is considering a stay at home order.

Sioux Falls city council members are now considering new models for mitigation efforts in response to COVID-19, as they debate whether to order a stay-at-home order.

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said it’s 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.

“Our goal is to share with you where we’re coming from from a public health perspective,” Aileen Profir with the city GIS and data department said.

The models are based on data the city receives from traffic counts and cell phone tracking from the Cuebiq company.

“For each county in the United States, they have released to the public, a percentage change in mobility over the same period of time last year. The GIS department has been tracking that information to consider in our estimate of social distancing,” Profir said.

They’re looking at three scenarios: where the city would be without any social distancing guidelines, where the city is currently with 25-percent of the population social distancing and where the city would be with 35-percent of the population social distancing.

“The curves that you’re seeing are based on a commonly used technique for modeling infections diseases. Unlike COVID, those methods are not novel,” Profir said.

The 35-percent model represents what would happen if a stay at home takes effect next week. Several people voiced their concerns about the order during today’s meeting. Mayor Paul TenHaken says the main concern for the city right now is public health and protecting lives.

TenHaken called for council members to suggest policies and ideas that would help with mitigation. His 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.

The mayor says it could be an amendment to the existing ‘no lingering’ ordinance. He says Sanford does not believe a stay-at-home order is needed, but Avera would support it if the city passed it.

“We want this virus gone with minimal damage, minimal deaths and minimal impact on our economy. Sacrifices have been made and sacrifices will continue to be made in the weeks ahead,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

If the stay at home order is approved, it would go into effect on April 24th and go through May 8th.

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