SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Sioux Falls doctor is begging Governor Kristi Noem to change her course of action in the fight against COVID-19 in South Dakota.

Dr. Wendell Hoffman is an Infectious Disease Specialist at Sanford Health. He’s been studying the virus and has seen the effects of it in patients.

He says the response need to change.

“My plea is directly to the Governor. Governor Noem, the people are suffering. We have 1,000 cases a day. This is not just about being in the hospital or the percentage of hospital beds. This is about the vast array of conditions that will develop from people in general getting COVID. We need to throw everything we have at it. I get that you don’t want strict lockdowns; neither do I. Those are devastating too, but we can’t just let this virus run without throwing everything we have at it. And, that means, Governor, you need to be out in front of the people and you need to encourage all of the mitigating strategies that even have the potential, including masks, which I know you have sort of said the results were mixed. I’m sorry, Governor, but all of medicine is mixed results. That’s what we do everyday. So, please we have to take a different course,” Hoffman said.

COVID-19: The Cases

“Right now, we do not have a curve. We have a straight up line. We have no end in sight at this point. And if you consider that Iowa was just demonstrated as having high numbers of influenza, we have influenza literally barking at our door. And so, I’m pleading with the governor, I’m going to make a direct appeal to you,” Hoffman said.

Governor, I respect the position that you have, but you must change course. You have to help the people who are suffering. This has a domino effect. It’s not just about the patients with COVID, it’s all of the patients with non-COVID illness who are being prevented from coming in because they’re afraid or because we’re being backed up by all kinds of other things. So please, please, listen to us. You’ve got to help us begin to even change this trajectory. And, as I’ve said, this is not a flattening the curve; this is flattening a perpendicular line.

Dr. Wendell Hoffman

“We’re looking at weeks and months of potential overload. It’s not just about those who are dying, as sad as that is. It’s about the many people who will suffer from this when we might have been able to make a difference as we build a bridge to a vaccine, and we’re very excited about that. That would be sort of the ultimate blocking activity, if you will. But until we get there, we have to do everything we can to block the virus in it’s transmission within our communities. And that means, that this is a highly contagious virus, and we can’t just say, ‘Well it’s going to spread anyways.’ That’s not true. There are many states who have flattened their curves and prevented some infections, if not many infections,” Hoffman said.

“I realize that you’re getting advice from all over the place, but this is coming from the frontline. And you said early in the spring/summer that you wanted to protect our hospitals. Well, here we are. What are we going to do to protect our hospitals; what are we going to do to protect our clinics? And what are we going to do to protect the entire population as much as we can? This is imperfect science and it’s an emerging science, and many will develop these post COVID syndromes, which, guess what? Makes it very difficult for them to go back and participate in an economy,” Hoffman said.

“Whatever we can do, we need to do. Whatever has potential, we need to enact. If you’re not going to do the formal mitigating strategies, then at least you need to get out in front. You need to in every way possible, spread the word. Encourage our many mayors, who are adopting different strategies than your own it would seem because we need the head coach to be on the same page as the assistant coaches. They’re not going to be completely there if the head coach has a different idea about how this should run,” Hoffman said.

So, that’s my encouragement to you. All due respect. You’re in a tough position, but so are we, and so are the patients we are seeing all the time. The fear is palpable. So, we need to change course. I’m begging you.

Dr. Wendell Hoffman

Governor Noem’s Communications Director Ian Fury said Noem was not available for an interview today, but sent KELOLAND News this statement:

“Every death is tragic, and even one is too many. Some think that a mask mandate would stop the virus in it’s tracks; sadly, that isn’t the case. Look at Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois – states that all have mask mandates but are still seeing rapidly increasing cases. Since the start of the pandemic, Governor Noem has focused on solutions that DO good, not solutions that FEEL good. She’ll continue trusting South Dakotans to exercise their personal responsibility to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones.”

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