SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls City Council met Thursday morning for a special meeting to address the COVID-19 ordinance in the city. Despite the increase in cases, the council has decided to move forward with a plan to reopen certain businesses.
The motion, which eases restrictions on businesses, passed 7-1 with councilor Pat Starr being the lone “no” vote. The new ordinance goes into effect on Friday, May 8, 2020.
After approving the regular agenda, the council had a second reading of the COVID-19 ordinance. Public health director Jill Franken reviewed the mitigation efforts.
“We are trying to limit and slow the spread of the illness,” Franken says. They are focused on spreading out hospitalization needs while also monitoring social and economic concerns.
She says there will more more than 100 cases reported in Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties today. She says that increase in COVID-19 cases is expected.
Now looking at the estimated community need for Sioux Falls. The brighter blue line is the current model the city is using. Franken says the actual hospital beds being used has been quite flat. She says it is good news, but makes modeling more difficult.
Franken says younger patients are not being hospitalized at the same rate as the older patients. The people over 65 have been staying home as asked to do.
The public health director says the ordinance under consideration is the best course of action at this time. She says as soon as there is new modeling available, the city will bring that to the council.
Franken says it is important to maintain social distancing at all times.
Ordinance will allow businesses to have more customers or diners, as long as chairs at tables are 6-feet apart. City working with businesses to ensure social distancing. Franken says again, the focus is on physical distancing, which is why the city included an occupant limit.
There is an enforcement part of the ordinance, just as there is with the current one, Franken says. Franken says while the city will enforce this, it wants to help educate businesses through the SOAR program.
Dr. Mike Wilde, chief medical officer at Sanford USD Medical Center, answered a question about the cost of the test, saying it is $140.
City Council discussed adding a deadline to the ordinance. Deadline would be June 5th. Some council members like a deadline/end date. Other council members say they will be looking at the plan continuously throughout the time of the pandemic.
Amendment tied at 4-4, Mayor TenHaken votes no, the amendment is denied. No deadline for the council.
After the ordinance passed, Mayor TenHaken released a statement on the decision.
“Based on the best available data, this ordinance is the right step for Sioux Falls’ public health and economy at this time,” TenHaken said in a news release. “Now is certainly not the time to declare victory over COVID-19 or completely turn off the faucet on our mitigation efforts. We are, however, at a point based on updated projections by the City, Avera and Sanford Health, where we can ease some of the mitigation efforts. By expanding businesses’ on-site capacity, we can protect public health and continue to help local businesses.”