Timeline: Reporting on COVID-19 in Sioux Falls
Nearly everywhere we've turned in the past two months has constantly reminded us of this ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. But there was a time, not too long ago, when the pandemic didn't dominate our lives.
It was less than 100 days ago, February 19, 2020 to be exact, that the first coronavirus-related story showed up on our website. It was a report on how the Sioux Falls Health Department was preparing for the possibility of dealing with the outbreak, which at that point had infected 75,000 people worldwide and killed 2,000 in China.
A few stories about local preparations for COVID-19 trickled in over the next few weeks. February 27 featured a story on the Sioux Falls School District's awareness of the virus. A March 4 report dealt with the possible fallout for the local tourism industry should the pandemic hit here.
Then came March 10, 2020.
That was the day the first reports of positive coronavirus cases in South Dakota hit our website.
After that, everything began happening very quickly.
The next day (March 11), schools in West Central announced they would be closing for one day to do a deep cleaning of their buildings.
24 hours after that (March 12) the City of Sioux Falls took action, with Mayor Paul TenHaken declaring a state of emergency, which limited all gatherings in all city-owned facilities to 250 people or less.
That same day the Sioux Falls School District called off all non-essential activities, Augustana University announced it was extending spring break for all students, the Sioux Falls St. Patrick's Day Parade was canceled, as was the Sioux Empire Sportsmen's Show.
March 13 saw Governor Kristi Noem declare a statewide state of emergency, which would close all schools from March 16 to March 20. Later that day, Sanford closed its wellness centers and Great Life shut the doors at its Woodlake facility.
Three days later (March 16), the Great Plains Zoo halted operations.
March 17 saw the El Riad Shrine Circus cancel its dates for 2020. Six days later (March 23) Cinemark made the decision to go dark at each of its two Sioux Falls movie theater complexes.
Also March 23, the city issued a recommendation that all non-essential businesses close temporarily.
Two days later (March 25), the Governor pulled the plug on the remainder of the in-person learning at the state's schools, leaving each individual district to implement online learning for the final two months of the school year.
March 26 was a milestone day in Sioux Falls. That was the day when the first confirmed case of COVID-19 inside the Smithfield Foods pork processing facility was revealed.
That was followed a day later (March 27) by the city of Sioux Falls passing the 'no lingering' law, which put strict limits on the numbers of people allowed certain businesses at one time.
Now, nearly two months to the day, the city is getting ready to lift all of the remaining Coronavirus restrictions.
But that doesn't mean things will be 'normal' again.
That may never happen...