SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken says there’s still no timeline to reopen Smithfield Foods.
The meatpacking plant has been shutdown now for more than a week following a massive covid-19 outbreak with over 900 cases connected to the plant.
He talked about that at this morning’s city briefing, along with the importance of continued social distancing, as we head into the weekend.
Following yesterday’s CDC report on Smithfield Foods, the city says it’s continuing to work with the plant to get it reopened as quickly, and safely, as possible.
The mayor says he took a lot of phone calls this week from hog producers who are running out of options.
“One that sticks out to me was a gentleman, who had to euthanize 3,000 hogs this week because there’s no market for them, no place to take those hogs, so it’s important for the public to know, for our ag community to know, those producers to know, we absolutely understand the upstream and downstream ramifications of having that plant closed,” TenHaken said.
The city is urging people to continue to social distancing this weekend staying six feet apart from one another.
“If the weather is nice out, people are going to have a tendency to get out more and be out and about more in the public, so please make sure you’re social distancing,” City Health Director Jill Franken said.
If you have tested positive for covid-19, you need to isolate yourself, but they understand in some cases that’s not always possible to do at home.
“An example of that might be two people who are living in an apartment and they only have one bathroom or it might be a family where you can’t isolate someone into a room effectively, because the home is just too small for that,” Franken said.
The city has set up three isolation centers, including one at the University of Sioux Falls that’s dedicated to first responders.
“They’re dealing with people on a daily basis or dealing with people with respiratory issues, because they don’t know if those people are covid positive, so when our firefighters come home they have to decide, do I want to go home, where I might have a compromised child, or do I want to go stay at a dorm at USF for a little while,” TenHaken said.
The mayor says all these practices are paying off and making a difference, because there’s been a down tick in the number of active cases within the city.
“Obviously these are numbers we like to see, but we are not calling this a consistent trend yet, because we are still on target and on track for a mid-May to late May peak,” TenHaken said.
University of Sioux Falls president Dr. Bret Bradfield says the decision to open its doors to people in need of isolation is part of its commitment to the community.
“We are the University of Sioux Falls, it’s our namesake, and I say this often in public speaking engagements that we feel a commitment to support the community and region that supports our existence, and this is one of those moments. When they asked, we didn’t even bat an eye at it, we just said, ‘Yep, we’ll do that,'” Dr. Bradfield said.
Bradfield says the school hasn’t turned down anyone. He also says the school will not be taking rent from workers who stay at the school.