UPDATED 11:15 a.m.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Active COVID-19 case numbers in Sioux Falls are back to levels last seen at the end of May, but the city’s mayor says he is comfortable with the rise in cases because of the steady hospitalization rate.
Mayor Paul TenHaken says the hospitalization rate for Sioux Falls residents has remained steady in the past few months. He said part of that is the age of the new positive cases.
TenHaken says the city is tracking a variety of data including active cases, cases per capita, positivity rate and “most importantly” hospitalization rates.
TenHaken said he thought when the city lifted all restrictions on businesses at the end of May, the city would see more cases than it has seen through the summer. He said people have taken a “certain level of responsibility” and Sioux Falls is “social distanced by nature.”
On mask mandates, TenHaken says the data doesn’t justify a mask mandate. He said that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen in the future.
“It’s a card we can play,” TenHaken said.
TenHaken says people should wear masks when going into business and his kids will wear masks in school.
While addressing the different plans of the seven school districts in the Sioux Falls area, the mayor stressed administrators have difficult jobs right now and he called on people to support them.
TenHaken said he “has no hesitation” on sending his three kids back to school based on the polices in place. He says efforts to keep students in school will be required from the whole community.
Dr. Michael Elliott, Chief Medical Officer at Avera McKennan Hospital, cited worldwide statistics to illustrate the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elliot says at this point, Avera’s testing capacity is in good shape and the health care system plans to announce new COVID-19 study soon.
Elliot and Dr. Mike Wilde with Sanford Health both emphasized the importance of taking care of other health concerns during the pandemic. That includes getting a flu shot once the supply is available.
Wilde says he expects the flu vaccine to start being available around Labor Day.
Wilde says a lot has been learned in a short amount of time about COVID-19. He said people need to be conscious of common touch points and make sure to wash hands frequently. As for masks, Wilde says people need to wear them properly and understand the purpose.
PUBLISHED at 5:57 a.m.
The City of Sioux Falls will hold a COVID-19 update to start the week.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, Avera McKennan Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Elliott and Sanford Health Vice President Medical Officer Dr. Mike Wilde will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday.
As of Sunday morning, Minnehaha and Lincoln County account for 503 active coronavirus cases. Current hospitalizations for Minnehaha and Lincoln County is at 28.
KELOLAND News will have coverage of the briefing online and on-air.