Mayor Paul TenHaken

City of Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls joins a growing list of cities considering relaxed restrictions on businesses. The city council will consider replacing the ten-patron limit on certain businesses at a special meeting Friday.

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken says the council will consider an ordinance allowing restaurants and bars to open at full capacity as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

The number of COVID-19 cases among Smithfield workers at the Sioux Falls meatpacking plant continues to rise. The plant now accounts for 44% of the state’s COVID-19 cases.

Governor Kristi Noem is denying Sioux Falls mayor Paul TenHaken’s requests for a state-led response to the spike in cases.  

The situation is getting national attention and furthering criticism of Governor Kristi Noem’s refusal to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. 

The governor continues to defend her decision.

Smithfield Foods is closing its Sioux Falls meatpacking plant indefinitely after hundreds of its employees contracted COVID-19. Over the weekend, Governor Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken asked the company to close the plant for at least two weeks. 

Smithfield had already announced a three-day closure through Monday to sanitize the plant and add physical barriers. On Saturday, Governor Noem requested the company to follow the recommended 14-day isolation period for potential COVID-19 exposure.

Gov. Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken want Smithfield Foods to close its Sioux Falls meatpacking plant for two weeks. The plant is in Minnehaha County, which reports 438 COVID-19 cases. Of those, 238  cases are identified as Smithfield employees.

Gov. Noem says the request also asks Smithfield to pay its employees while the plant is closed.

The Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls will close for three days this weekend after becoming a cluster of coronavirus transmission. Health officials say about 80 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. The union representing those workers says that number is closer to 120. 

State officials say they’re monitoring the situation, while the city develops a more targeted communication plan.

State officials won’t say how many new COVID-19 cases are connected to the Smithfield outbreak. And state epidemiologist Josh Clayton says they do not identify specific hotspots. 

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."

City of Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken is issuing what he calls a “Safer at Home” proclamation to curb the spread of the coronavirus. More than half of the state’s total COVID-19 cases are in and around the city.   

The proclamation includes guidelines for businesses and families. It encourages residents to stay at home and limit grocery store visits to one trip a week from one household member. In line with the most recent CDC guidelines, the proclamation also encourages anyone over two years old without breathing difficulties to wear cloth masks in public.

Cara Hetland / SDPB

Governor Kristi Noem has already issued a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus. But many are waiting for her to declare a public health emergency. 

That distinction is frustrating local leaders—especially after lawmakers defeated a bill that would have granted more specific authorities during a public health emergency. 

A state of emergency gives the governor more flexibility to work with federal partners. It also triggers certain state resources. For instance, the governor declared a state of emergency last year to help responses during major flooding.

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken recommends that the city Board of Health shut down some businesses to curb the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

The Board of Health’s actions may depend on an executive order expected from Governor Noem later today.

Mayor TenHaken maintains anything less than statewide action to restrict business activity has limited effects.

“So for instance if we do something in the 80 square miles of Sioux Falls, I don’t govern Tea, I don’t govern Harrisburg, Hartford, Renner, Brandon.”

Adria Botella

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken announces a new fund to help those who come under financial hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The One Sioux Falls fund received $700,000 from local businesses in its first 18 hours. The mayor is also asking city council to allot another $250,000 in general funds.

Mayor TenHaken says the fund is offered through the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.  

Sioux Falls Mayor Proclaims Small Business Saturday

Nov 27, 2019
Jackie Hendry

According to the Small Business Administration, 99% of businesses in South Dakota are small businesses. That includes everything from family farms to specialty boutiques.

In Sioux Falls, Mayor Paul TenHaken issued a formal proclamation recognizing tomorrow as Small Business Saturday.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving has been an occasion to support local and small businesses for about ten years. But after the press conference at Luca—an Italian leather goods store in downtown Sioux Falls--Mayor TenHaken practiced what he proclaimed.