SPARK Sioux Falls program to help businesses recover from COVID-19 downturn

Coronavirus

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — An increase in COVID-19 cases over the weekend in the Sioux Falls area was not unexpected, Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

He says there is a positive rate of nearly 24 percent of the tests being run in Minnehaha County. For the Sioux Falls MSA, which includes Lincoln, McCook and Turner Counties, the number goes down to 22 percent. He says the positive case rate is erratic right now. He wants to see the positive case rate in the 3-12% range.

TenHaken says the hospitalization rate for COVID-19 patient remains steady, which is important. He says the positive case rate and hospitalization numbers are what officials are closely monitoring.

Sioux Falls city officials and health care systems are watching what is happening in Sioux City, Iowa, as the COVID-19 case count quickly climbs in that area.

TenHaken says the executive order from South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem for people older than 65 years of age and those with chronic health conditions in Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties expires on Monday. While local officials wait to learn if it will be renewed, TenHaken reminded people in those groups to maintain personal responsibility for their health.

As businesses start to reopen during the pandemic, the business community is coming together to look at plans to rebound over the next several months and even years. TenHaken said a hotel owner told him the economic impact on his business will last 3-5 years.

TenHaken introduced a new program called SPARK Sioux Falls to help industries impacted by COVID-19 closures. It’s a partnership between the city, Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Downtown Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jeff Griffin says the program will promote a return to local retail stores and restaurants. Rather than travel somewhere else, the chamber encourages people to explore the Sioux Falls area for a stay-cation.

He said Sioux Falls had a robust economy before the pandemic hit and that should help the economy in Sioux Falls rebound faster, though it will likely be a long-term recovery with new business trends.


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