SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Leaders of two health care systems in Sioux Falls along with the city’s public health director say now is the time to remain vigilant to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Public Health Director Jill Franken, Avera McKennan Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mike Elliott and Sanford VP Medical Officer Dr. Mike Wilde all spoke to the community’s efforts to flatten the virus curve in the city.
Franken says the recent no-lingering ordinance that was set to expire next week had a first reading to be extended to April 22. Franken says the city was pleased with compliance in the first week of the ordinance.
Franken highlighted the importance of working together with Avera and Sanford on a day-by-day basis to predict the impact of COVID-19.
She said the city is feeling “really good” about current social distancing. She reminded everyone that President Donald Trump extended social distance guidelines through the month of April for the entire country.
Avera McKennan Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mike Elliott said the people of Sioux Falls can sleep well with Mayor Paul TenHaken and Franken leading efforts in the city.
Elliott said practicing social distancing in the weeks ahead is crucial. He said Avera is screening every employee, looking for symptoms of COVID-19. Avera has also restricted visitors and is trying to have many meetings electronically.
Elliott says during the pandemic, Avera is still open for business. He said e-care is being used a lot and he says people need to make sure they are still taking care of themselves.
Elliott said Avera is also accepting handmade masks of all kinds.
Elliott said Avera’s supply chain is working “around the clock,” trying to order Personal Protective Equipment as well finding ways to add more rooms at the main campus.
Elliott said the community has been coming together and he’s been encouraged with what he has seen. He said people need to continue to look out for each other. He suggests before you go out to pick up groceries, call and see if you can help pick up some things for others.
Sanford VP Medical Officer Dr. Mike Wilde said Sanford is also touched by all the support the health care system has seen. He mentioned a lot of artwork on display at the Sanford main campus.
Wilde said Sanford is preparing for a surge of COVID-19 patients. He said the hospital is finding ways to act now, citing technology to reach out to patients. He said everyone needs to help flatten the curve.
Wilde said Sanford will be ready when the time comes.
On what a possible surge would like, Dr. Wilde said the surge looks to be still “a ways off.” He said around 2-4 weeks and it wouldn’t be a rapid spike, but a sustained influx of patients. He said it’s a matter of when it will hit and how long it will be.
Elliott said prediction models has “some art and some science to it.”
“We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best,” Elliott said about looking at the infection models for Sioux Falls area.
He said all health care systems want to be ready before it hits. He said they want to be ready for the “long haul.”
On Wednesday, Governor Kristi Noem mentioned a peak in the state in July or August. Franken said she’s only focused on Sioux Falls’ peak. She said many other patients from other communities would likely come to Sioux Falls, but she’s focusing on actions for people in Sioux Falls.
Franken said the state data hasn’t been presented to the city at this time.
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