“Wear a dang mask when you’re indoors — we’re not asking you to sign up for a draft here,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

The Mayor of Sioux Falls comes out with a strong message for people in Sioux Falls and the “region,” when it comes to wearing a mask. However, even with nearly 2,500 active COVID-19 cases in the Sioux Falls area, Mayor Paul TenHaken stopped short of calling for an ordinance to require masks.

“Our health care systems are surging and our health care workers are extremely busy right now.,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

While Sioux Falls health care facilities are typically busy this time of year, there are an additional 15 to 20 percent of patients being treated for COVID-19.

Mayor TenHaken is calling for the citizens of Sioux Falls and the region to social distance, wash their hands and wear a mask.

TenHaken says mask-wearing shouldn’t be politicized.

“I’m not sure when or why this issue became so dang political. It’s quite ridiculous how political this has become. This is not an R or a D issue, this is a public health issue. And at times I”m embarrassed at how politicized this has become,” TenHaken said.

However, TenHaken doesn’t believe a law requiring them would work.

“This has become so polarizing, that even if I felt the efficacy was there, it has the chance to absolutely destroy a city; divide a city and I’ve seen it. Secondly, it’s not enforceable,” TenHaken said.

Avera Health says it’s increasing ICU beds and asking people to work more shifts to handle the surge.

South Dakota Health Systems expect that the number of people hospitalized will increase substantially within the next month.

Last week Governor Kristi Noem addressed the record numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state.

“Our record numbers that you’re talking about are actually reflective of the amount of testing that we’re doing. We have tripled the amount of testing we are doing in the state of South Dakota, which is why you’re seeing elevated positive cases,” Governor Kristi Noem said on October 13th.

“It’s been suggested that we’re seeing so much a surge right now, mainly because we’re testing more people — if you test more people you find more people essentially. The answer to that is no, I think it’s pretty clear we are seeing a true increase in cases.”

Dr. David Basel, Avera Health

Dr. David Basel with Avera says a doubling of hospitalizations in the last month is a clear indicator of a true surge in cases.

I also asked Mayor TenHaken about upcoming events that are expected to attract hundreds, if not thousands of people, like Governor Noem’s Sportsmen’s Showcase at the Sioux Falls Convention Center this coming weekend. He said because there is no mandate, it’s up to the venue and the organizers to take precautions to keep attendees safe.

Yesterday on Twitter, Noem publicized T-shirts her political campaign is selling online that say “Less COVID, More Hunting.”