Coronavirus cases continue to rise in and around Sioux Falls. Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties make up 25% of the state’s total active cases.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken is not pursuing a city-wide mask mandate, but he is encouraging businesses and individuals to double-down on COVID-19 prevention measures.
Mayor TenHaken says all 1,300 city employees are now required to wear masks in an effort to prevent spreading the coronavirus. As for a city-wide mandate:
“You will not see my administration mandating any mask-wearing requirements at this time.”
In mid-August, Mayor TenHaken said he’d consider a mask mandate if each Sioux Falls hospital exceeded 40 COVID-19 patients. At that time, there were 33 COVID hospitalizations in Sioux Falls. Now there are 110, but leaders from Sanford and Avera assure the public there’s adequate space.
During a media briefing on Monday, Mayor TenHaken urged a region-wide effort to limit further spread. City Public Health Director Jill Franken points to upward trends of active cases and hospitalizations.
“Bottom line, we’ve got to reverse these trends," she says. "Mitigating the spread of this virus and being able to get a handle on this is really—it’s the essence of public health. It’s the public’s responsibility to do what we need to do to reverse this trend.”
She urges people to continue following good respiratory hygiene and to isolate if feeling sick.
“And if you’re in a situation where you cannot physically distance, you must wear a mask. I really can’t stress this enough right now," says Franken.
Mayor TenHaken says masks are also a workforce issue. He says a city department recently met in a room without masks, and one of the employees later tested positive for COVID-19.
“I now have an entire department—it’s a six person department—five people out. Quarantined," he says.
TenHaken hopes other businesses will follow the city’s example by requiring masks and other precautions. He maintains individual responsibility is the best option to keep the community healthy.