SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — According to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, South Dakota needs to change its way when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Given the extraordinarily high test positivity and incidence, among the highest in the world, aggressive measures to limit additional hospital overruns and preventable mortality are warranted and strongly recommended,” the task force said in its Nov. 22 report. KELOLAND News reviewed a copy of the report shared from the Center for Public Integrity.

“Requirements for face coverings, especially in indoor public or commercial settings, have been shown to improve adherence and lower transmission,” the report said in recommendations to South Dakota officials.

The task force also put the face covering requirement statement in the recommendations for Alaska.

While all 50 states received state specific recommendations and comments, there was a statement that was applied to all.

All 50 states should “ensure that masks are worn at all times in public, increase physical social distancing through significant reduction in capacity in private and public indoor spaces and ensure that every American understands the clear risks of ANY family or friend interactions outside their immediate household indoors without masks,” the report said.

The task force commended South Dakota for the recent expansion of testing but also said it should be maximized. The state also needs to make sure that all clinical facilities, including mid-level and rural, have contingency and expansion plans up to date.

South Dakota cracked the top 10 in several coronavirus categories for Nov. 9 through Nov. 20, according to the coronavirus task force.

South Dakota had the ninth highest positivity rate in the U.S. The state had nearly 2.5 times the national average in COVID-19 deaths per 100,000. The state’s rate was 988 deaths per 100,000 compared to 365 per 100,000 for the national average.

During the week of Nov. 9 through Nov. 15, 45% of the state’s nursing homes had at least one resident with a COVID-19 case, 71% had a staff member with a case and 21% of nursing homes had at least one COVID-19 death.

During a Nov. 18 news conference, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem asked the public to be extra diligent with personal hygiene and to stay home when sick as some of the ways to help protect the vulnerable population.

Throughout the pandemic, Noem has said she doesn’t believe she has the authority to mandate mask wearing and that she trusts the people of South Dakota to take responsible actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Mandates and lockdowns harm businesses, Noem has said.

During a Nov. 18 news conference Noem said, “I’ve consistently said people that want to wear masks should wear masks and people who don’t should not be shamed because they choose not to.”

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