Dept. of Health Works with Smithfield, Several Other Sioux Falls Businesses

Apr 8, 2020

Minnehaha County—which includes most of Sioux Falls—accounts for more than half of the state’s COVID-19 cases. State and city officials have identified a hot-spot of coronavirus transmission, but won’t publicly identify it. 

Mayor Paul TenHaken says the state identifies hot spots and then works with the city public health departments on mitigation efforts. 

“There is a spot in Minnehaha County that we’re working very closely with the state. I’m not gonna name a business or an organization," says TenHaken, "but we are working with one employer specifically."

Last month, an employee at Smithfield Foods' meatpacking plant in Sioux Falls tested positive for COVID-19. When asked directly about the plant, TenHaken says it’s one of several businesses with positive cases that are working with the state Department of Health.

State epidemiologist Josh Clayton says health officials are monitoring the situation closely, though in the morning press call he did not specify Smithfield. 

“As far as risk to the public, it’s a business that’s not open to individuals, and so we’re working with that specific business.”

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon says the Smithfield plant accounts for about 80 COVID-19 cases so far.

The department usually doesn’t identify areas with potential COVID-19 exposure. Exceptions are made when it’s impossible to track down everyone who may have had contact with a positive case.