South Dakota nears record for COVID-19 daily deaths report

November 12, 2020

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota on Wednesday reported 27 new COVID-19 deaths, one of the state’s highest single-day totals during the pandemic.

The Department of Health has already reported 142 deaths during the month of November, setting a pace of deaths likely to surpass October’s 202 reported deaths. During that month, South Dakota had the nation’s second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths per capita, according to Johns Hopkins data.

The 27 deaths reported Tuesday was the second-highest single-day tally yet. The highest single-day death toll came last week with 28.

The state has spent weeks dealing with one of the nation’s worst rates for coronavirus cases per capita. There were 1,882 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. That means that roughly one out of every 53 people has tested positive in the past two weeks.

Hospitalizations had soared to new highs this week, but dropped for the first time in five days on Wednesday. There are currently 543 people hospitalized by the virus, health officials reported.

Meanwhile, the state’s largest city, Sioux Falls, rejected a proposed mask mandate on Tuesday night. Mayor Paul TenHaken cast the tie-breaking vote after the City Council was split on the ordinance.

The mandate would have required face coverings to be worn by people in most indoor public places where 6-foot social distancing was not achievable. Violations carried a $50 fine.

“I believe the small uptick we’ll see in compliance is not worth the community division that this will create,” TenHaken said as he ended debate.

Councilor Greg Neitzert said he did not want to live in a city where people are calling the police because someone isn’t wearing a mask.

“It’s not just about health,” Neitzert said. “We also have to look at principles.”

The Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce opposed it, saying there wasn’t enough clarity around potential effects on businesses, the Argus Leader reported. Several faith leaders in the city supported the mandate.