SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Just two days after addressing the nation at the Republican National Convention, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem was back in the state addressing a different crowd in Sioux Falls.
She was one of the featured speakers at a deployment ceremony for 190 South Dakota National Guard members and their families as they prepare for a 10 month deployment.
“This is the most important part of my job,” Governor Noem said.
Even as she enjoyed time with the South Dakota Families.
“I really do feel like the most humbling and honoring part of my job is being commander and chief of our national guard,” Noem said.
She’s also dealing with the other pressing matter of the moment.
“We’ve always known that positive cases would go up, we’ve been planning on that since the very beginning,” Noem said.
Right now South Dakota has the highest number of active Covid-19 cases since the pandemic started. There were 2,182 active cases in the state as of Friday’s briefing from the State Department of Health. But Governor Noem says that’s not the number she’s most concerned about.
“What we’ve always been focused on is the hospitalization numbers,” Noem said. “We’ve seen a little bit of an increase in those as well but previously for the last several weeks they’ve been declining. I think we’re exactly where we thought we would be.”
After a slight dip in July and early August, the number of Covid-19 patients in the hospital has increased by almost 38 percent in just three days, now at 80 hospitalizations. A number Noem says the state can handle.
“All along it was about building capacity into our hospital systems to take care of those people who do get sick and we’re doing very well in that aspect,” she said.
Noem and other state officials continue to monitor this recent spike in cases and are preparing for the potential impact that going back to campus and back to school could bring.
“With kids going back to school we’re watching that very closely, we’re making testing available to everyone especially focusing on staff and teachers that could have some health conditions that would really need to be protected during this time,” Noem said.
Senator John Thune and Representative Dusty Johnson were also at Friday’s deployment ceremony. KELOLAND news crews spoke with them and the governor about the state’s roughly $900 million in remaining CARES Act funding. We’ll have that story coming up on Monday in Your Money Matters.