SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken expressed frustration with a lack of direction from state lawmakers in how to respond to COVID-19.

TenHaken says he testified on Monday, asking for help from lawmakers to help standardize the response the state. In the past, TenHaken has expressed concern with the patchwork of regulations being put into place across South Dakota. He says the legislature failed to pass some of the “more critical” bills that would have helped with those concerns.

He asked people to find how their lawmakers voted on those bills and if they voted no, he suggested people reach out with their concerns.

One measure lawmakers did pass concerns certain elections. TenHaken said the city election, which had been scheduled for April 14, has been moved. He said more details would be coming on when it will take place.  

TenHaken says Sioux Falls leaders are working with health care partners and the legal team to determine what steps the city can take to slow the spread of COVID-19.

With the nicer weather, city officials have seen people not following social distancing guidelines at parks so the city is now taking action to close the outdoor areas. TenHaken says basketball rims are coming down, playground equipment will be taped off, dog parks will be closed and no organized games will be allowed. He says the bike trail will remain open “for now.”

As for people who cite the low number of cases in South Dakota, TenHaken countered that the time to act is now. TenHaken said it is on every one to flatten the curve. He cited examples around the United States and the world, which Sioux Falls is watching to learn and prepare for the worst the best way it can with the authority given.

Public Health Director Jill Franken said the city is working with Avera and Sanford to predict if and when a surge will happen and how to keep mitigating. Franken said the city is looking at cities with similar populations, the decisions they made and their COVID-19 numbers.

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