Gov. Noem says about 2,600 Smithfield employees and close contacts received COVID-19 testing this week


PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem says about 2,600 Smithfield Foods employees and close contacts were tested in two days this week. Noem says the state expects to see an increase in positive cases due to the increase in testing done in the Sioux Falls area. She says people should focus on hospitalization rates.

At Wednesday’s briefing, Noem thanked the South Dakota National Guard for all that it has done during the pandemic. The governor also recognized and thanked nurses on National Nurses Day.

In response to a question about when state employees will return to their physical offices. She says people are moving back in phases, Noem said she’s letting agencies handle it on a case-by-case basis. Noem says when employees do return, they will continue to practice social distancing.

The governor says there have been no in-depth conversations about potential cuts in the state budget. She says she’s waiting to get a better picture on the hit to sales tax. Also, a June legislative session may not be needed. But, if the state receives flexibility on how it can spend COVID-19 (CARES Act) funds, Noem said a special legislative session could be held later in September. A key to recovering any losses in the state budget is flexibility in how CARES Act money can be used by the state, Noem said.

Noem says she would like to not touch the rainy day fund, or budget reserve fund, but she isn’t taking it off the table as an option either

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon says the state Department of Health is working closely with Good Samaritan staff at a facility in Sioux Falls . Malsam-Rysdon says some mass testing has been done at the facility of residents and employees. That Good Samaritan center in Sioux Falls has had 15 COVID-19 deaths.

The secretary of health says there are about 270 people who may take part in the hydroxychloroquine clinical trial. She says this was geared to people who were hospitalized due to COVID-19 or the more serious cases.

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