Sioux Falls area continues COVID-19 per capita surge past Chicago, comparable cities

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls now has now surpassed Chicago in the number of cases per 100,000 people, with new case numbers released Wednesday. This comes as city officials look to issue a stay-at-home order, after requests to Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) were denied.

The City of Sioux Falls uses per capita data to compare to other cities for modeling. Earlier in the month officials were looking at similar cities: Fargo, N.D.; Omaha, Neb.; Des Moines, Iowa; Tallahassee, Fl.; and Dayton, Ohio.

KELOLAND News looked at the data in those areas and compared to Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, as well as some other counties in South Dakota and big cities like Chicago and Seattle.

We are working to update this chart in real-time on Wednesday as more counties report results.

The data shows an earlier surge in cases than Seattle or Chicago. As of Wednesday, it has been 37 days since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Minnehaha County. Meanwhile, in Cook County, where Chicago and several suburbs are located, it has been 83 days since the first positive case. The two cities with vastly different population sizes are nearly identical for cases per 100,000, but saw a spike almost one month apart.

As Original has reported, last weekend, Gov. Kristi Noem criticized on Twitter the use of looking at cities on a per capita basis.

“You’ve seen the headlines comparing us to Chicago or Seattle based on percentage increases,” Noem wrote. “But that doesn’t tell the most accurate story.”

King County (Seattle) has 4,262 positives and 284 deaths. Cook County (Chicago) has 12,472 positives and 398 deaths. Minnehaha and Lincoln counties have 477 positives and 2 deaths. (4/8)

— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) April 12, 2020

“It’s more appropriate to look at data THIS WAY than it is to look at percentage increases,” she wrote.

Behind the math: The number of positive cases is divided by the population. Then you multiply that number by the average population size you want to look at. KELOLAND News used 100,000, as is consistent with other reporting.

Per capita is a common measure to compare locations with different populations.

Per capita is often used in financial reporting, including the state’s yearly annual financial report. Last month, Noem also cited two pandemic-related statistics that were per capita when it related to both testing and overall positive cases.

“Just a couple of facts for you,” Noem said in a March 31 media briefing. “We are 15th in the nation for testing, this includes all 50 states and Washington D.C. So while we are 15th in the percentage of our population that we’re testing per million, we are 45 in positives. That’s good news for us. It indicates that we are prepared for this marathon.”

On Wednesday, Noem announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sending a team to help with the surge in Sioux Falls.

This is a developing story.