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Pennington County COVID-19 Cases Rise Ahead Of Tourism Season

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SDPB

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer tourism season.

But this year, Black Hills officials don’t know what to expect because of the coronavirus.

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender says businesses hope for a good year.

But he says residents are concerned visitors will bring the virus to the region.

Allender says Rapid City’s population increases by 5 to 10 thousand during a normal summer season.

“So, if there were people able to transmit the virus and they were here interacting with us it could cause a spike. That’s the statistical reality of it,” Allender says. “I think what’s in question is how much of a tourist season we’re really going to have.”

Allender says hotel reservations are down so far. He says city leaders aren’t sure how much to advertise to tourists this year.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Pennington County is steadily rising.

The Department of Health reports 16 new cases Tuesday. For weeks, the county had fewer than a dozen cases. Now, the state is reporting 74.