Since the beginning of the pandemic, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has often followed the lead of President Donald Trump by disregarding science and the public health warnings regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
In Noem's state, there is no mask mandate and very few mitigation guidelines are in place. Now, South Dakota has the highest coronavirus death rate in the world, according to Native Sun News. Dr. William Haseltine, president of ACCESS Health International and author of the book "My Lifelong Fight Against Disease," recently weighed in on the alarming coronavirus outbreak in South Dakota as he lambasted politicians for politicizing public health.
According to Haseltine, the South Dakota COVID outbreak is "as bad as it gets anywhere in the world." He blamed the Republican governor for "ignoring public health measures that would have been successfully used to curb the spread of the virus elsewhere in the world." Describing her lacking leadership as the "equivalent to manslaughter," he expressed concern about the continued refusal to enforce mitigation guidelines despite the state's infection and death rates.
The Hill reports that South Dakota now has a 12.1 percent positivity rate for coronavirus. On Nov. 12, the state hit a record high of 1,821 cases reported in a single day. Both statistics are glaring red flags that signal an accelerated spread in the state. With a state population of less than 900,000, statewide, the numbers are alarmingly high.
But despite the obvious signs of a dangerous outbreak, Noem refuses to enforce masks or any other mitigation guidelines. On Monday, Nov. 23, the governor's spokesperson Maggie Seidel released a statement on Noem's behalf. Ignoring science yet again, Seidel claimed masks and mitigation efforts do not work although the state has not made a real attempt to follow the guidelines.
"The facts are simple: mask mandates, harsh lockdowns, massive testing and contact tracing haven't worked – in the United States or abroad," Seidel reportedly wrote in an email, according to the publication.
Noem has also claimed she does not have the authority to issue a statewide mask mandate. "We talk often about the government's role in a situation like this in dealing with a pandemic," Noem previously said. "At this point, frankly, I'm getting more concerned about how neighbors are treating neighbors."
As of Wednesday, Nov. 25, the United States has 13 million coronavirus cases including more than 76,000 cases in the state of South Dakota alone.