Public officials concerned over the potential spread of COVID-19 during Sunday's protests in Sioux Falls

 Protesters gather outside the Minnehaha Co. Courthouse
Protesters gather outside the Minnehaha Co. Courthouse (KSFY)
Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 5:59 PM CDT
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There is a start reminder during all of this unrest, we're still dealing with a pandemic.

Though restrictions have been lifted in Sioux Falls, it has been made clear by public officials are still counting on residents to follow CDC recommendations. And, during yesterday's protests, obviously those guidelines weren't at the forefront of everyone's mind.

While bars, restaurants, and many other businesses have reopened, it has been about two months since any significant sized events have taken place in Sioux Falls, which raises legitimate concerns about the number of people who gathered at yesterday's rallies.

"Wherever individuals congregate there is the risk for transmission of COVID-19 from an infected person to a person who is susceptible," South Dakota State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said.

Mayor Paul TenHaken was frank with the media Monday morning, saying the top priorities of Sunday night weren't enforcing social distancing and mask wearing. However, TenHaken added he was glad to see some of the demonstrators taking precautions.

"There were a lot of people masked up, but we had, at Van Epps park, a couple thousand people crammed in there," TenHaken said. "There was a lot of community spread happening there. We're not out of the COVID phase yet, so we're still dealing with that on top of this, so we'll see what comes from that."

Since the symptoms of COVID-19 usually take 2-14 days to show up, state health officials say it will most likely be a couple weeks before we really know what kind of community spread has come from the recent protests.

Though there are currently no plans in place for a mass testing event of protesters, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem says the state may need to consider doing that in the days ahead.

"That situation with those who attended the protests, we'll have to continue to evaluate our ability to facilitate something like that," Noem said.

Noem says mass testing has already been effectively used several times in South Dakota for business such as Smithfield Foods as well as in the state's nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

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