Sioux Falls health officials, health systems address COVID-19 cases

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls health officials, along with Sanford Health and Avera Health, are urging residents to be prepared and not panic after five cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in South Dakota, including one death.

“We know a lot people in our community want to know what happens, what’s next,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said. “We have a great team of experts and professionals.”

One of the cases was in Minnehaha County.

TenHaken said during a Tuesday media briefing that he talked to Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) on Tuesday evening and will be on a White House conference calls with other mayors on Wednesday.

A common message from both health systems and the city was to call ahead if you’re experiencing symptoms before going into the doctor’s office.

Jill Franken is the director of health for the City. She said planning began in January for the City of Sioux Falls and there is a COVID-19 team established within the city.

She recommended practicing social distancing, good hygiene and environmental cleaning.

“Really what it means, you might want to consider avoiding large crowds, especially if you have those chronic conditions or are older,” said Dr. Allison Suttle, Chief Medical Officer, Sanford Health.

Suttle said that could mean people watch church online instead of in-person, eating in a little more or going less out to the movie theaters.

“We’re not asking people to hit the panic button,” TenHaken said.

The mayor said the city is looking at whether some big events should be canceled.

Long-term care facilities have strong visitor restrictions in place. The health system officials recommended using technology to connect with loved ones. Sanford/Good Samaritan Society has met with Vice President Mike Pence.

The city said the primary command is being handled by the South Dakota Department of Health. Sioux Falls Schools released a statement on Tuesday, as well.

We are in close contact with the state and local health departments as this situation unfolds. We are fortunate to live in a community with excellent medical resources. Schools are conducting routine cleaning using hospital-grade products and will continue to operate on normal schedules.

Sioux Falls School District email to parents

This is a developing story.