PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem said Monday she has strengthened her current emergency order against the coronavirus COVID-19 by changing the word ‘should’ to ‘shall’ and extended the new order through the end of May for all of South Dakota.
She also said she signed a second executive order specifically for Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, telling people over the age of 65 or with chronic health conditions to stay home as much as they can for the next three weeks.
As of 5:05 p.m. CT, however, neither new order was posted on the South Dakota Secretary of State website. A member of the governor’s administrative staff walked into the Secretary of State office at 5:24 p.m. with a red folder. She said she didn’t know if the contents were the orders. The office provided them to KELOLAND News about 5:35 p.m.
“Now that we have a plan that we have agreed to, the Department of Health has agreed to, and our three major health care systems have agreed to, we are changing the language in the executive order to ‘shall,’ giving clear direction to the people of the state of South Dakota that they will follow this plan. This is the plan for our state that everybody will be on board with. And we also in the executive order changed the date of effectiveness, so the date in this new executive order will go through May 31. And everybody needs to know this is the direction they’re going through May 31 and that this is the plan that South Dakota will follow,” Noem told reporters earlier in the afternoon.
“What I’ve consistently said and still adhere to is I will use every authority I have and take the appropriate action at the appropriate time. I have all the faith in the world that the people of South Dakota — they have been absolute rock stars in working to protect their communities and their families. We have had some bad actors, absolutely, but we know that by and large the efforts we’ve undertaken as a state have worked. We have cut our peak rate in half from what we first thought it would be when we had our first virus-positive case in the state of South Dakota, just by people taking personal responsibility, by doing and following the recommendations that I have given them. They’ve cut the peak infection rate in half. That is amazing to me. And I know that if I continue to give them the strong guidance of what they need to do, a plan for how we’re going to prepare and get through this together, that they will take it seriously and that they will do it, and we will get through this together,” Noem said.
The governor said she also wants South Dakota’s 149 public school districts to keep classrooms closed for the rest of the school year.
The two latest orders come on the heel of her declaration Thursday of a statewide disaster from COVID-19 covering all 66 counties and nine tribal reservations.
The disaster order will continue through three months beyond when the U.S. secretary of health declares the public health emergency has ended in the United States.
This is a developing story.
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