Like many other Republican governors who didn’t fall in line with the mainstream media’s “lock everything down” solution for every state in response to the Wuhan Coronavirus crisis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has been heavily criticized for not following their one-size-fits-all approach for how to combat the spread of the virus.

The Washington Post was among the many national media outlets including CNN to blame Noem last month for a virus outbreak that happened at the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls.

In a piece with the headline “South Dakota’s governor resisted ordering people to stay home. Now it has one of the nation’s largest coronavirus hot spots,” the Post, linked above, wrote:

But now South Dakota is home to one of the largest single coronavirus clusters anywhere in the United States, with more than 300 workers at a giant ­pork-processing plant falling ill. With the case numbers continuing to spike, the company was forced to announce the indefinite closure of the facility Sunday, threatening the U.S. food supply.

“A shelter-in-place order is needed now. It is needed today,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, whose city is at the center of South Dakota’s outbreak and who has had to improvise with voluntary recommendations in the absence of statewide action.

The entire article was one big bashfest against Noem, accusing her of taking a “throwback” approach to the crisis, and managing to find only people who were critical of her stance. It also included a predictable jab at President Trump for touting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the Wuhan Coronavirus, while also insinuating Sioux Falls Mayor TenHaken was more credible on what to do in the event of an outbreak than Noem:

But the governor continued to resist. Instead, she used a media briefing Monday to announce trials of a drug that President Trump has repeatedly touted as a potential breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus, despite a lack of scientific evidence.

[…]

Yet as South Dakota’s experience shows, no part of the country is immune to being ravaged by the virus. And rescinding orders that people stay at home — or declining to issue them, as in the case of South Dakota and four other states — offers plenty of peril.

Reopening the country by May is “not even remotely achievable,” said TenHaken, who, like Trump and Noem, is a Republican. “We’re in the early innings of this thing in Sioux Falls.”

The Post’s attack, of course, was disingenuous for a variety of reasons. First, while Noem didn’t issue a statewide shelter in place order, she did what several other Republican governors did by limiting social gatherings. She also provided guidelines for businesses not considered essential to allow their employees to work from home and on how restaurants operating on a take-out basis only. Public schools were also closed weeks ago and will be closed for the rest of the school year.

Also, while the spread of the virus at the Smithfield plant was the state’s largest, even if Gov. Noem had put a statewide “stay at home” order in place, it wouldn’t have applied to the plant because it is considered an essential part of America’s food supply chain. So it was not shut down prior to the outbreak. Noem noted the distinction in a series of tweets at the time pushing back at her critics:

As it turns out, the national media’s swooping in to take swipes at Noem’s handling of the crisis didn’t sit well with some of the state’s residents, who threw a parade in her honor earlier this week:

Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem had an impromptu parade thrown in her honor on Tuesday in the capitol city of Pierre. A local construction company organized the parade to show appreciation for her handling of the coronavirus epidemic.

[…]

The parade, organized by John Morris of Morris Inc. construction company, featured “literally hundreds of cars,” fire trucks and other vehicles honking their horns and sirens while Noem watched, apparently surprised, from a local park.

[…]

[Morris said] “We just felt bad that the leadership of our state was kind of getting lambasted for her decision [not to close the state]. In South Dakota when somebody’s getting discouraged or down on their luck, that’s what we do: We step up for each other.”

Morris and his wife reportedly organized the parade by sending out “hundreds of text messages” to local friends and business owners. By one of his employee’s count, roughly 230 vehicles participated, driving a four-block route from a local high school, past the governor’s residence to the capitol building.

Gov. Noem posted a video of the parade, and her emotional reaction to it, in a tweet:

As of this writing, there are 859 active cases of the Wuhan Coronavirus in South Dakota. They’ve had 1,573 recoveries, and 17 people have died.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —

 

 
donate
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.