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Rapid City residents comment on potential mask mandates

Nine months into the pandemic and the general population is still at odds on masking up.
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 5:18 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - South Dakota continues to see large numbers of COVID-19 cases and over the weekend recorded its highest number of deaths in one day. As the pandemic rages on, officials on all levels are working on new protocols and encouraging people to mask up.

Last week Sioux Falls Mayor Paul Tenhaken cast the deciding vote striking down a mandate there. However, the city council plans to take another look at their meeting Tuesday. And Monday night, Huron is talking mask mandates at their city council meeting.

While Rapid City doesn’t have a city-wide rule yet, is it something that could happen?

Nine months into the pandemic and the general population is still at odds on masking up.

“It’s taking a little bit getting used to. However, if it protects my children and my family and myself and my peers, then I guess it’s worth it," said Genevieve Osborn, a Rapid City resident. "The alternative is dire.”

“I hate them because you can’t breathe," said Dale Nikkila, a Rapid City resident. "I got two in my bag that I carry with me at all times. In fact, I’ve got one in my back pocket. I make sure I have on all the time. Like when I go to Walmart, where many people come, I’ll wear one, but otherwise, I don’t wear it.”

Members of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board suggest a four-to-six-week nation-wide lockdown while Governor Kristi Noem continues to keep the state open and free of guidelines. Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender’s tweets have been full of pleas to mask up.

“When seatbelts first came out, we didn’t necessarily like them, but we realized they save lives, so if it is deemed necessary from health officials to keep the community safe, I guess I’ll comply," said Osborn. ”I can see both sides of the table. I can see how it’s a burden, and it’s cumbersome. At the same time, if it’s going to keep me and my family safe, then it’s worth it to me."

“I feel everybody should be able to make their own choices, and there’s a lot of personal responsibility, and I just feel that for me, I will wear a mask if it means saving the life of somebody else," said Rapid City resident, Mandie O’Meara.

“My honest opinion, the only way anyone is going to control this virus is to come up with a cure. It is the only way to knock it down. It’s no different than any of the other viruses we have. The only way they go away an antidote to cure them," said Nikkila. ”This virus is going to do what it’s going to do until they get a cure."

Last month, Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender said that coronavirus numbers would have to get “a lot worse” before he’d consider issuing a city-wide mask mandate or lockdown orders.

Since then, COVID-19 cases in South Dakota and Pennington County have risen exponentially.

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