Sioux Falls mayor interested in additional COVID-19 testing as city council looks to revise ordinances


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the city of Sioux Falls COVID-19 response approaches 60 days, Mayor Paul TenHaken says residents need to take personal responsibility to protect themselves and others from the virus.

TenHaken said the city continues to follow the review, reassess and realign decision-making process. The city council will meet Thursday morning to discuss opening some more restrictions for businesses such as fitness centers, theaters, other entertainment areas and churches.

Aggressive testing is something TenHaken would like to see in the future. He says he wants it to be available all first responders and critical employees who have been working during the pandemic. He’d like to get the point where people can drive up and get a test when they want one. He said the South Dakota Department of Health is in charge of mass testing.

TenHaken said the testing site at Washington High School for Smithfield Foods employees and their families is something he’d like to see more in the future. He said the city will learn a lot from the week-long process, which Avera Health and the CDC are coordinating.

TenHaken says he was on a call with Smithfield and other state leaders on Saturday. The company’s plant in Sioux Falls has been closed since mid-April due to a COVID-19 outbreak in employees and their contacts. As of Friday, the Department of Health said there were nearly 1,100 cases connected to the plant. That number held steady for much of last week.

“We understand they’re going to be opening some parts of the plant this week,” TenHaken said. But he has not seen the reopening plan. He has another meeting with Smithfield on Monday.

In looking at the latest data for the city, TenHaken says the hospitalization rate is at around nine percent.

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