Gov. Kristi Noem: ‘More South Dakotans Have Died from Accidental Injuries’ than Coronavirus in Last 5 Months

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem gives her first State of the State address in Pierre, S.D., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019.
James Nord/AP Photo

More South Dakotans have died from accidental injuries than the Chinese coronavirus over the last five months, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said Monday.

There is a risk associated with everything that we do in life; more South Dakotans have died from accidental injuries than from #COVID19 in the past 5 months,” Noem began in an attempt to put the challenge of defeating the virus in perspective. 

“We mitigate risks by taking proper precautions,” she continued.

“We take precautions when we get in our cars, when we operate farm equipment, and when we make choices about what we eat and how much we exercise,” Noem added. “The same should be true about life as we continue getting back to normal”:

Noem famously refused to issue a stay-at-home order in her state during the peak of the pandemic, instead urging businesses to heed to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She formally unveiled the state’s “back to normal” plan at the end of April, urging individuals and employers to encourage good hygiene, adhere to proper social distancing guidelines, and conduct health screenings “where appropriate.”

Her plan also instructed health care providers to continue restricting access to nursing homes and called on hospitals treating coronavirus patients to “reserve 30% of their hospital beds and maintain appropriate stores of PPE to meet surge demand.”

Noem has continued to defend her approach, telling Fox & Friends last month that her administration addressed the crisis in a way that preserved South Dakotans’ freedoms.

“I think what we did here in South Dakota is really remarkable because we gave people their freedom,” she said.

“We let the businesses stay open, we let people go to work, we told them to be smart, and we also asked them to be personally responsible,” she continued. “And, we’re seeing benefits of that each and every day in South Dakota.”

“Trust your people,” Noem said when asked to give advice to fellow governors. “Don’t lay down mandates that are going to hinder the ability that they need to really get through this difficult time.”

“Trust them, give them the facts, let them make decisions that are right for their families,” she added.

South Dakota, which has an estimated population of over 884,000, has reported 9,663 cumulative cases of the virus and 146 related deaths. According to the state’s department of health, 1,146 of those cases are active.

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