Sioux Falls mayor declares state of emergency amid COVID-19 pandemic

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Mayor Paul TenHaken declared a state of emergency in the City of Sioux Falls Thursday in response to the COVID-19 presence in the community. A declaration allows the mayor to convene an emergency meeting of the City Council.

At an emergency city council meeting just hours ago an ordinance was unanimously passed to adopt the emergency declaration.This now limits large gatherings of people within Sioux Falls in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

That means city venues are now limited to 250 people or less. That includes, the Denny Sanford Premier Center, Convention Center Washington Pavillion and Orpheum Theater. Undoubtedly cancelling a number of events and shows in the coming weeks. The Pavillion's Kirby Science Center and Visual Arts Museum will be closed along with the Midco Aquatic Center. The Parks and Rec. Department and Siouxland library have canceled all events. The emergency declaration remains in effect -- until the mayor calls it off.

"Best thing we learned tonight is that we want to make sure that when it does affect our community and it will, it's a slow curve of people getting it. So that our healthcare professionals if you do need a doctor visit, if you do need hospitalization that it's a slow curve and it ramps rather than a huge Spike that overloads our healthcare system,” said Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr.

According to the city attorney, the ordinance includes a penalty of a class 2 misdemeanor which is up to 30 days imprisonment and up to $500 in fines.

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The Mayor requested a City Council meeting at 7 p.m.Thursday night to pass ordinances to restrict the movement of people within the City of Sioux Falls. The emergency declaration also provide the City contractual flexibility and the ability to target resources quickly.

As of Thursday, March 12, 2020, there were three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnehaha County.

“Out of an abundance of caution and in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, I am proposing aggressive steps to protect our vulnerable populations in Sioux Falls,” said TenHaken. “Every single person in Sioux Falls has a role to play in slowing the spread of this virus, which is our top priority. I want the people of Sioux Falls to be confident in our response efforts. The City, State, Avera, Sanford Health and other community partners are united in our commitment to slow the spread and help those impacted.”

The administration will propose to the City Council that effective March 13, 2020, the City is limiting all large gatherings in City-owned facilities to 250 people.

This includes the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, Convention Center, Arena, Washington Pavilion and Orpheum Theater.

The box office at the Premier Center will remain open during normal business hours.

Initially, the administration would like to limit these gatherings for the next 14 days.

The Midco Aquatic Center will be closed until March 27, 2020.

The Parks and Recreation Department and Siouxland Libraries have canceled events for the next 14 days.

Community centers will be closed except for after-school activities until 6 p.m., Monday-Friday.

The Washington Pavilion will close the Kirby Science Center and Visual Arts Museum until March 27, 2020.

Leonardo’s Café, the box office, small group gatherings and preschool activities at the Washington Pavilion will continue as scheduled.