Health care group sponsoring South Dakota indoor country music festival that doesn't require masks: report
Kristi Noem (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

On Monday, The Daily Beast reported that South Dakota is poised to hold an indoor country music festival that won't require face masks and has not yet confirmed whether they will require social distancing — and it's being sponsored by a local nonprofit health care organization.

"Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is presenting the Oct. 24 event in conjunction with the state’s governor, Kristi Noem," reported Michael Daly. "She endorsed the Sturgis motorcycle rally last month, where nearly half a million people gathered, largely without masks or social distancing, for 10 days before returning home, which a report by a team of economists with the Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies at San Diego State University estimates to have resulted in more than 260,000 COVID-19 cases. She will now be hosting the annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunt, which this year will include a musical event."

The Chris Young concert — which ironically is being held at a venue also named for T. Denny Sanford, the philanthropist behind the health care group — is expected to host 5,000 people, far fewer than the Sturgis rally. But the sponsorship by Sanford Health still flies in the face of the organization's own stated advice to the public on COVID-19.

"'If you have to go to the grocery store, pharmacy or anywhere else where social distancing is tough, the CDC now recommends wearing a mask,' the Sanford Health website notes. 'They’re now recommended for anyone in public settings where staying 6 feet away from others is more difficult, especially where significant community spread is occurring,'" noted the report. "Sanford Health also advises people to observe social distancing, which it says includes 'maintaining distance — at least 6 feet — from others in both indoor and outdoor spaces” and “avoiding social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.'"

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