Massive biker rally in South Dakota continues during pandemic

The mayor of Sioux Falls, Paul TenHaken, talks about his city’s COVID-19 cases, lessons learned from the Smithfield processing plant outbreak and more.
3:51 | 08/13/20

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Transcript for Massive biker rally in South Dakota continues during pandemic
There you go. Despite concerns about the spread of covid-19 in large gatherings the Sturgis motorcycle rally began last Friday with as many as 250,000 attendees expected. En route to the rally many of those bikers will pass through Sioux Falls. Joining us is the mayor of sioux Falls, Paul tenhaken. Thank you so much for being with us, mayor. I was just in your beautiful city a few months ago and I certainly enjoyed it. This is a big gathering. The Sturgis motorcycle rally under way. As mayor of South Dakota's largest city, how do you feel about the rally being held this Good afternoon, Amy. Thanks for having me on. I think a lot of people would look at the Sturgis motorcycle rally this year and say it's probably an ill-advised event to be having this time. We also live in a culture where people are becoming increasingly impatient and they want to get back to normal routines and their normal life. In the case of the biker culture Sturgis was going to happen whether it was official or not. With the decision to have the rally, what happened is the city of Sturgis said we're going to have this. We're going to make it as safe as possible rather than just having a rally that wasn't intended happen anyway. We in Sioux Falls are ready for a lot of bikers pass through Sioux Falls on their way to the rally. We'll be watching really closely to see what effect this may have on any covid activity in our market on the east side of the state. Unlike a lot of major cities Sioux Falls does not have a mask mandate or any covid-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants where we see a lot of bikers ending up at. What are the latest covid numbers in your city? Do you foresee the need for tougher regulations going forward? We had limited mandates on bars and restaurants that we lifted at the end of may. So we're really two and a half months into what I would call business as usual. There's not any restrictions on any businesses in our municipality. Quite honestly I expected to see a larger increase in cases here in Sioux Falls as a result. We haven't seen that. Our hospitalization rate is very steady. Our case rate has been steady. The positivity rate while ticking up a little is very manageable. We feel comfortable where we're at. We're not spiking the football because we know what this virus can do. You know more than anyone the smithfield food meat packing plant in Sioux Falls had that covid-19 outbreak with 900 employees testing positive. What lessons did you learn from that difficult time? That was challenging. That's not a reason you want to be on a national map, for having the largest covid hot spot in the country. What we learned early on is the danger of this virus. Covid spread in that facility like wildfire. That case came out of a light socket and made us realize we have to take this extremely seriously and businesses, packing plants specifically, seemed more prone to these large outbreaks. They needed to take it very seriously. What I learned from that incident is I've been meeting with a lot of large businesses and say if you don't think that you can have mass spread of covid in your facility, I point to exhibit a over here. It can happen and can happen quickly. Preparation is extremely important. Then transparency in the communication, when that does happen in a business, be forthright with the community and say this is what's happening. These are the steps we're taking to keep our employees and the community safe. Mayor, we appreciate your time. We wish you and yours the very best. Thank you, Amy. You too.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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