Gov. Noem ends prison mask mandate despite lingering COVID-19 cases

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Following her meeting with staff at the South Dakota State Penitentiary last week, Governor Kristi Noem ended the mask mandate in South Dakota’s prison system.

The governor’s office says staff “overwhelmingly voiced their desire to have the requirement lifted,” during their meeting. The CDC still recommends mask-wearing in correctional facilities.

However, the governor’s office says her order is, “common sense given where we are with the pandemic, and it will help boost morale.”

Communications Director Ian Fury says Gov. Noem would have made the change sooner if the Department of Corrections would have communicated its mask policy to her.

According to the DOC, 70 percent of inmates have been vaccinated. That’s an increase of three percent since April.

Prison staff is not required to report whether they are vaccinated.

There are currently two active COVID-19 cases in the prison system. Both are at the Jameson Annex in Sioux Falls.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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