PIERRE, S.D. — Sixteen mayors who represent South Dakota’s largest cities and nearly half of the state’s population signed a letter urging all South Dakotans to take a united approach to mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

The letter, which was released Friday, Oct. 16, comes on the heels of a record-setting week where South Dakota’s active case count remained over 7,000 for Thursday and Friday.

“While our municipalities have taken different approaches to flattening the curve of this virus, one common thread we all have is that we are non-partisan office holders seeking to create unity, dispel fear, and protect public health, the economy, and personal freedoms,” the letter states.

“We are writing to you with a simple ask, but one that we need everyone to take seriously. We need you to do your part. It is crucial that we are all aware of our behaviors. Wear a mask when physical distancing cannot be maintained, keep your social interactions to small groups, wash your hands frequently, clean frequently touched surfaces often, and stay home if you feel sick. These may seem like small actions, but can make a big difference during this current surge we are experiencing in our state.”

The letter, which was released through the South Dakota Municipal League, also asked the state’s business communities for diligence.

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“Consider asking your employees and customers to wear masks, promote physical distancing within your organizations, provide hand sanitizer, follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards of cleaning, conduct daily health checks and allow your employees to stay home if they feel sick,” the letter reads.

“The concept of community is more important than ever, and the actions of every community are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Each of us has the opportunity every single day to make the right choices that help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and help save lives. To our many healthcare workers, educators and essential workers who are doing your part to help turn the tide of this pandemic — thank you. We must all remain vigilant and continue taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus to protect each other and our loved ones. There is only one way we will get through this — together. Stay strong, stay safe, and do your part.”

The following mayors signed the letter:

  • Mayor Steve Allender, Rapid City
  • Mayor Dana Boke, Spearfish
  • Mayor Sarah Caron, Watertown
  • Mayor Kelsey Collier-Wise, Vermillion
  • Mayor Keith Corbett, Brookings
  • Mayor Marshall Dennert, Madison
  • Mayor Bob Everson, Mitchell
  • Mayor Steve Harding, Pierre
  • Mayor Gary Harrington, Huron
  • Mayor Nathan Johnson, Yankton
  • Mayor Gloria Landphere, Belle Fourche
  • Mayor Larry Larson, Box Elder
  • Mayor Paul Lundberg, Brandon
  • Mayor Travis Schaunaman, Aberdeen
  • Mayor Paul Ten Haken, Sioux Falls
  • Mayor Derick Wenck, Harrisburg

October has also been the deadliest month of the coronavirus pandemic thus far, with 84 lives being claimed in only 16 days. The death toll increased by three on Friday to 307.

All three deaths were in the 80 and over age range.

The South Dakota Department of Health reported 793 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total case count to 31,805. Currently there are 299 people hospitalized in the state due to COVID-19.

There are currently 7,312 active cases as of Friday.

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Marvel covers South Dakota government and politics news. She can be followed on Twitter at @shannmarvel and reached at smarvel@forumcomm.com or 605-350-8355.