Sioux Falls Mayor says time for COVID mitigation is “dwindling,” wants shelter-in-place order


Governor Kristi Noem says Sioux Falls could see COVID-19 cases peak sooner than the rest of the state. On Monday, there were four-times more COVID-19 cases the Sioux Falls area than just a week ago. More than 700 people in Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties have now tested positive. 350 of those cases are people who work at Smithfield Foods. Statewide there are 868 cases. That’s up from 288 cases a week ago.

Those numbers, and the potential for even more spread, are reasons why Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken wants a shelter-in-place declaration. He is asking Governor Noem to issue it for Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties, however, he says if that doesn’t happen, the city will issue an order. TenHaken is worried that if the Sioux Falls area doesn’t have a shelter-in-place now, the number of cases of COVID-19 will surge dramatically and be too much for local hospitals to handle.

“The window of time for mitigation is certainly dwindling,” TenHaken said.

TenHaken wants Governor Noem to issue a three-week shelter-in-place. He says if the governor refuses, the city can’t issue one until April 21 due to South Dakota law.

“Quite honestly, it’s crap we have to wait that long. That’s what the legislature decided on veto day. That’s the law we have to live with it,” TenHaken said.

If there is a shelter-in-place, that means you can only go out for essential reasons.

“Essential, meaning outdoor activities you can still do. You can still get groceries, you can still get gas,” TenHaken said.

The governor says she’s evaluating the request.

“This is something to look at, but you need to look at it at the appropriate time to make the biggest difference on when you could see people surge into our hospital systems,” Noem said.

The mayor says that time is now.

“We’re really asking for the help of the state to take more swift action because our nimbleness was stripped from us in order to act on a local level,” TenHaken said.

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