South Dakota has very few coronavirus cases, a positive result of residents voluntarily using good social distancing practices and not being under a mandatory stay-at-home order, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem told Newsmax TV.
South Dakota has the second-fewest coronavirus-related deaths in the country. And it only has 1,685 coronavirus cases with 56 people hospitalized.
"Two-thirds of our state has no cases or [only] one or two in each county," Noem told Monday's "Greg Kelly Reports."
The national press has pressured Gov. Noem to follow the example of many other states with more dire coronavirus situations and institute a strict lockdown, but she has resisted, making clear she does not think such a mandate to shutter businesses makes sense in her state.
Noem, a Republican, did declare a state of emergency in South Dakota on March 13 and issued an executive order requiring nonessential personnel in the office of state government to work remotely.
But in stopping short of a more extreme stay-at-home order, she has irritated proponents of a national lockdown, even as officials in several other states, including Georgia and Texas, are already moving toward a cautious reopening in accordance with recent guidelines from the White House.
Indeed, Texas has begun the slow easing of lockdown guidelines this week. And Georgia announced plans to let some businesses – gyms and salons, for instance – reopen as soon as Friday, as long as they continue such things as social distancing.
Likewise, Jacksonville, Florida, has reopened its beaches despite criticisms from proponents of strict and continued lockdowns. And multiple states have begun to see protests by residents bristling at the continuation of strict business lockdowns and stay-at-home mandates.
"We do follow CDC guidance, but we also made decisions that were best for South Dakota," Noem said. "South Dakota is not New York City. We're very different. And even county to county, we're very different.
"We just decided we were going to be innovative and allow our businesses to change how they do business."
Noem added: "I told people what we needed to do, that we needed to social distance, that they needed to make good decisions for themselves and their communities. And overwhelmingly, that's exactly what South Dakotans have done."
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