UPDATE: Emotional TenHaken begs people to follow COVID-19 restrictions, take virus seriously


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Mayor Paul TenHaken pounded on a podium Tuesday morning as he asked for business leaders to be smart about protecting employees and the public from COVID-19. He says he is mourning for the city of Sioux Falls and everyone affected by COVID-19.

TenHaken said public health is more than COVID-19. He said public health includes suicide, homelessness and many other concerns. He said city and state leaders are trying their best during this difficult time.

TenHaken said there is no law preventing businesses from being open. He said a lot have closed because they are worried about causing health concerns and it makes sense to be closed. He said he’s trying to put pressure on others to close.

He says restaurants and bars will be open again, but for now, people need to be smart and stay home “right now.”

The Sioux Falls Board of Health will meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Carnegie Town Hall. If the Board of Health enacts regulations, the City Council would meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday. 

TenHaken said the Board of Health meeting will be very informational and will explain how the city government and state government work. KELOLAND News will livestream it online.

Public Health Director Jill Franken is urging a community-wide approach to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She said people must practice social distancing to flatten the curve.

She said the window is closing on how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Decisions made today impact what happens in the future.

TenHaken said as a data driven guy, he appreciates getting updates from the lcoal hospitals. he says Avera processed 200 COVID-19 tests on Monday. He said once he gets more data, he can make better decisions on how to have Sioux Falls best move forward.

TenHaken stressed that COVID-19 doesn’t respect city limits and he only has authority to make decisions for Sioux Falls.

He also asked residents to do something kind for others and check on neighbors.

“We are going to need a sense of community in the months ahead,” TenHaken said.

On Monday, City Clerk Tom Grecco asked to postpone upcoming elections, which had been scheduled for April 14. Grecco said it would help protect poll workers and voters during the height of the coronavirus concerns. Grecco is recommending pushing the city election back until June, with the statewide primary. He was also calling on people to vote absentee by mail and asked for volunteers to run polls. 

All last week, TenHaken highlighted the importance of social distancing. The city announced it closed many city-owned businesses and people are encouraged to call ahead for any city business. 

The One Sioux Falls fund, which can help people and small businesses in Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner and McCook counties, has surpassed $1 million. You can submit an application for assistance at the Helpline Center’s website.

Monday, March 23 briefing

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