South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem blasted CNN for publishing a February story on the state's response to COVID-19, calling it "completely not factual."
"What was interesting about this story was it was completely not factual," Noem told Fox News Digital.
The story, "Omicron may be on the decline, but this South Dakota hospital is still feeling its peak," ran Feb. 9 and quoted a doctor at the Monument Health hospital in Rapid City, calling the number of cases the facility saw then as "worrying."
"We are seeing a rise in the range of 60% in cases here in hospitalizations at Monument Health," said Dr. Shankar Kurra, the hospital's vice president of medical affairs. "And that is worrying. This is a trend that is a warning to us; a dire warning that we could be at capacities we never imagined."
The story went on to point out that Noem refused to implement mask mandates and other restrictions imposed by other states like restricting gathering sizes, and instead allowing residents to make their own decisions about the risk of the disease.
"Governor Noem has provided her people with up-to-date science, facts, and data and then trusted them to exercise personal responsibility to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones," her communications director told CNN for the story.
Noem went on Twitter the day after the story to criticize the network.
"Last night, @CNN falsely claimed that hospitalizations are 'surging' in Pennington County. Hospitalizations are in fact down 32% since the omicron peak 3 weeks ago," Noem's Feb. 9 tweet said. "This political hit job ignored the mountains of factual data that we sent to them. We are demanding a correction."
While the story made the situation sound dire at the time, the numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths has dropped in South Dakota, and the rest of the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the state.
As of Monday, the state reported 111 new cases, 5,075 "active" cases, and 171 people hospitalized with COVID statewide.
Out of the total population of just over 895,000, the state reported total deaths from COVID-19 at 2,805, with a total of 10,567 hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
Pennington County, where the hospital in the CNN report is located, is second in the state for a total of 32,447 cases since 2020.
The state does lag a bit behind national averages when it comes to vaccinations, reporting 58.19% fully vaccinated and 71.08 with at least one dose, compared to the national average of 64.9% fully vaccinated and 76.4% with at least one dose, according to the CDC.
CNN has not issued any corrections to the story, which also ran in affiliated publications like the Albany Herald in Georgia.
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