South Dakota has a tiny number of coronavirus cases, but the national press is demanding Gov. Kristi Noem implement a strict lockdown of the state.
So far, she is resisting, and says a close down of business in the state makes no sense.
Noem, a Republican, declared 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 she has not taken the more drastic measure of a stay-at-home order. And that has irritated proponents of a national lockdown.
The latest data shows the state has only 1,168 confirmed cases and just six deaths. Only 51 people in the state have been hospitalized.
Media reports have noted a hotspot occurring at the Smithfield Food pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, where about 500 employees tested positive for coronavirus. (Smithfield Foods is owned by China’s WH Group Ltd.)
But the governor has pointed out that even if a lockdown had been in place, the plant would have remained open as an essential food business.
Noem on Wednesday criticized the media for associating her decision to not issue a lockdown with the outbreak at Smithfield.
“Let's be perfectly clear: a shelter-in-place order would NOT have prevented Smithfield from happening. They are a critical infrastructure business. They are part of the nation's food supply chain and contribute to South Dakota's role feeding the country and the world,” Noem stressed.
Also, unlike more dire hotspots like New York, which has well over 200,000 cases, California with 27,000, or Louisiana with 22,000, South Dakota has not had any issue with its small number of hospitalized cases.
Noem reiterated this week that she won’t be ordering people to stay home amid the pandemic.
“We are flattening our curve in South Dakota,” she told reporters.
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