Board of Health to Consider Closures of Certain Nonessential Services

In an effort to protect lives by slowing the spread of COVID-19, Public Health Director Jill Franken has called for a special meeting of the City’s Board of Health to consider measures to close certain nonessential establishments should data support further mitigation efforts.

Using data being gathered by the state and local health partners, the Board of Health may be asked to consider the mandatory closures of nightclubs and bars that do not prepare served food, video lottery casinos, movie theaters, live performance centers, gyms and fitness centers, bowling alleys, arcades, private social clubs and indoor shopping centers. Dine-in service at restaurants, food courts and coffee houses could be restricted to carry out and drive-thru services only. While the state maintains primary jurisdiction1, the City Board of Health has the local authority to mandate closures in the event of a public health emergency such as a pandemic.2

Since COVID-19 was detected in late-2019, city leaders and local health systems have planned and prepared a collaborative response to the virus. Following today’s announcement of seven new COVID-19 cases in Beadle and Brown counties by the state Department of Health, City leaders consulted with local hospital leadership to discuss next steps to prevent and mitigate the local transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. During the following 48-hours, data modeling and additional test results will help drive these conversations.

“Avera is supportive of the steps the City of Sioux Falls is taking right now. In the next few days we’re going to have more data to make these important decisions as many tests are still pending,” said Dr. David Erickson Chief Medical and Innovation Officer with Avera Health. “We do still recommend that people practice good hand hygiene and social distancing, which includes staying at home whenever possible and limiting exposure to other people. Research has shown that limiting exposure during pandemics has slowed the spread of illness.”

“Sanford Health is currently working on data modeling which will help predict the rate of disease spread and the ability of health care providers to manage it,” said Dr. Allison Suttle, Chief Medical Officer with Sanford Health. “This modeling will also be informative to the effectiveness and advisability of social distancing measures. We support the steps the City is taking and the ongoing conversation regarding these measures. Throughout Sanford’s response, we will continue using data to help inform our decisions.”

“The public health of Sioux Falls is paramount during this pandemic,” said Mayor TenHaken. “We will take the steps necessary and prescribed under State Law and City Ordinance to protect the people of Sioux Falls. Our Board of Health can take heavier action if they are inclined and I will support them in this process.”

At this time, the City continues to strongly urge local businesses to promote social distancing, staying home if you are sick, and regular handwashing. The Public Health Director may provide a closure recommendation to the Board of Health pursuant to the Director’s authority under local ordinance in response to public health epidemics. If the Board adopts regulated closures, a resolution or ordinance may be drafted and presented to the City Council for additional considerations.

The Board of Health will meet at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at Carnegie Town Hall. Should the Board take steps to enact regulations, the City Council would meet at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. These meetings will be open to the public. With limitations on the size of mass gatherings, the public is encouraged to watch the meetings remotely. 

1 South Dakota Codified Law 34-22-43 
2 Sioux Falls City Ordinance 92.053

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