Sioux Falls increases efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - City Health officials say they want to go along with the CDC's new guidance and are preparing right now to present the change to the Sioux Falls City Council.

"It's all about social distancing," Sioux Falls Public Health Director Jill Franken said. "There are things we have the ability to influence, and those right now are our city-owned buildings."

But the city can't prevent community spread alone, that's why city leaders are calling on the private sector to follow suit.

Mayor Paul TenHaken says municipalities, like Sioux Falls, don't actually have the jurisdiction to mandate the closure of businesses. He says that is something that would need to come down from the state level.

"We have a chance to impact this, the actions we take now could have implications for weeks," Franken said.

Social distancing also includes schools.

"I want you to please keep your students from gathering together this week, schools are closed in an effort to keeps students separated," Franken said.

Sioux Falls School District Superintendent Dr. Brian Maher says the school district not only has an academic responsibility to the students, but also a social responsibility.

Maher says administrators will continue to do what's necessary to keep the students safe.

"Part of that responsibility is closing down our schools this week, and who knows, that may be just the beginning of that interruption," Maher said.

Maher is hoping for the best but says there is a plan in place if there is an extended absence from school.

"We'll make sure that we have options, both technologically and the old paper and pencil method as well," Maher said. "And if we extend into the next week, we'll figure out how to distribute lunch and breakfast to our students."

Officials are also asking people to be good neighbors during this time. Help those who may be more at risk, and think as a community instead of as an individual.