BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) — As we begin the holiday weekend, South Dakota and Iowa are both seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. That has some of the nation’s top health experts urging everyone to wear masks and social distance, no matter what your holiday plans include.
“Please don’t have parties where people do not have mass on just because they or a neighbor does not mean they couldn’t be positive,” Dr. Deborah Birx, with the White House COVID response, said.
The warning comes as South Dakota sets another COVID-19 record. There are now 3,032 active cases in the state. That’s more than three times the number of active cases the state had a month ago. On Friday, the state also reported an uptick in hospitalizations. 89 people are hospitalized with the virus and another person has died.
As we’ve shown you on KELOLAND News, South Dakota is getting national attention for its lack of restrictions. We have stories with people with two very different viewpoints that we’re going to share with you. That includes a man who was hospitalized with COVID 19. Now he has a message for everyone in South Dakota. However, a family that recently moved to South Dakota specifically because of the state’s open approach.
Two and a half weeks in, and Susan Luschas feels settled into her new home state. Her family left the California sun, but is finding plenty of bright spots in South Dakota.
“Overall, we love South Dakota. The people have been so welcoming to us. I’ve literally been waking up every morning, saying ‘Thank God for South Dakota,'” Luschas said.
Luschas says she and her family wanted to leave California due to the state’s tight COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s been pretty locked down. For the most part, I would say people are scared. So, they’re self-isolating and not coming out of their homes,” Luschas said.
She says online schooling and isolating weren’t working for her children. She and her husband researched states online, and found South Dakota.
“We were looking for the freest state possible,” Luschas said.
South Dakota has gained national attention for largely remaining open, no mask mandate, and for large events continuing. That includes the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Governor Kristi Noem has also used this as an opportunity to market South Dakota to people living in other states with tighter restrictions. Luschas says the hands-off approach is what she was looking for.
“We were looking for somewhere where schools were open, and what we were looking for was completely open schools, preferably without a mask policy without a mandated policy,” Luschas said.
There is a lot of debate about how states are handling COVID-19. Luschas says her family, who now lives in Brandon, feels like South Dakota is the right place for them.
“The kids love it here. They are so happy to be here. They have freedom here,” Luschas said.