- Paul TenHaken, the mayor of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, declined to issue a mask mandate in the city on Tuesday despite rising COVID-19 cases in the state.
- South Dakota currently has 16,595 active COVID-19 cases, meaning one in 54 residents has an active case of the virus.
- TenHaken said he supported and encouraged mask-wearing, but feared a mandate would create a "community division," among residents.
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The mayor of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, declined to issue a mask mandate in the city on Tuesday despite concerns of rising COVID-19 cases across the state.
Mayor Paul TenHaken broke a 4-4 tie in the city council during Tuesday's meeting by voting down the mask mandate ordinance, saying, "I believe the small uptick we'll see in compliance is not worth the community division that this will create," according to the Argus Leader.
The decision comes as South Dakota faces rising cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations.
South Dakota currently has 16,595 active COVID-19 cases, and with a population of 884,659, 1 in 54 residents has an active case of the virus.
According to the Washington Post, the state saw an 18.2% increase in daily reported deaths, a 26.5% increase in hospitalizations, and a 9% increase in new daily reported COVID-19 cases.
Health officials have encouraged people to wear masks — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says protective face coverings can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The mandate voted on during Tuesday's city council meeting would have required people in Sioux Falls to wear masks in "indoor public places where 6-foot social distancing cannot be achieved or maintained," including gyms, bars, and restaurants.
TenHaken has encouraged mask wearing throughout the pandemic, but said at the city council meeting on Tuesday that a mandate would be going too far.
"The unenforceable nature of it is a challenge," TenHaken said. "I'm not putting anything else on our cops. I'm going to defend those cops, and I'm not putting anything else on their plate."
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