Gov. Kristi Noem touts latest report on Sturgis Rally as vindication against COVID-19 superspreader label

KELOLAND.com Original

Sturgis Live Cam at Indian Motorcycle provided by OnSight 24/7 at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, August 10, 2020.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Shifting blame from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gov. Kristi Noem is attacking “liberal media outlets” for labeling the 2020 Sturgis Rally as a superspreader event. 

Two days after slamming the CDC, Noem was on Fox & Friends Wednesday morning discussing a new report published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases — an international scientific journal published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The paper’s main author is Dr. Rosalind Carter, an epidemiologist for COVID-19 Response with the CDC.  

Asked by Fox News about what she wants people to know about the 2020 Sturgis Rally, Noem did not attack the CDC like she did on Monday. 

“The media lied about the event,” Noem told Fox News. “For a year, they’ve labeled it as a super spreader; that was not true. We’ve continuously pushed back and I’m glad some of those facts are coming to light today.” 

On Monday, Noem told KELOLAND News the CDC has changed “opinions and guidance based on political pressure at different times.” She blamed national media for demonizing the rally and said “less than a couple handfuls of cases were traced to that event.” 

“We did not have significant cases,” Noem said on Monday in a news conference at Falls Park. 

KELOLAND News reached out to Gov. Noem’s office to clarify her thoughts on the Clinical Infectious Diseases report on the rally.

When asked directly what facts Gov. Noem cites when she says Sturgis was not a superspreader event, spokesman Ian Fury said in an email to KELOLAND News “I would defer to the South Dakota Department of Health on data regarding cases tied to the Sturgis rally.”

The South Dakota Department of Health has previously said in media briefings 124 South Dakota residents attended the Sturgis Rally before becoming ill with COVID-19.

The latest study found 649 reported cases, if you include confirmed secondary and tertiary spread to close contacts. There were 463 laboratory-confirmed or probable primary cases from people who traveled to Meade County from August 1-30 or attended the Sturgis Rally Aug. 7-16. There were 17 hospitalizations and one death reported.

On Wednesday, Noem highlighted the South Dakota Department of Health’s work in connection with the event.

“We did testing in that community for weeks afterwards. We reached out to every state that we had visitors from and did our data collection and tried to hold some accountability out there,” Noem said. “These liberal media outlets, these Democrats want to attack policies of a state like us that’s free. They’ll just continue to perpetuate that narrative. 

“I’m thankful they’re continuing to get more and more of the real facts of what happened at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally before people come again this year. We’re looking forward to an even bigger crowd,” Noem said on Fox News.  

She went on to tout South Dakota’s COVID-19 response highlighting kids have been doing in-person learning all year, the state’s fast growing economy and the lower unemployment rate. 

“We’ve got incredible hospital capacity should we need it,” Noem said. “Our people have managed through this crisis in a way that I think is really a testimony to what Republican, conservative principles and values are; and how they really do take care of people and create an opportunity for people to still be successful.”

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