Gov. Noem says masks are a ‘personal choice,’ won’t consider a statewide mandate

Coronavirus

Sioux Falls may have passed a mask mandate, but South Dakota’s governor continues to call masks a ‘personal choice”. This comes as COVID-19 deaths in the state near 700.

Although the South Dakota State Medical Association has called for a statewide mask mandate it doesn’t sound like Governor Noem is going to change her mind on that issue anytime soon. KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke asked the governor if her messaging contradicted with the South Dakota Department of Health’s.

The South Dakota Department of Health says when social distancing isn’t possible, people should wear masks to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, in Governor Kristi Noem’s latest public service announcement, she makes no mention of masks.

Kennecke: Do you think you should be wearing a mask, or telling people to wear a mask in the PSA, if that’s what the health department is telling us to do.

Noem: The PSA was there to simply remind people to be diligent and to thank our health care workers.

Noem was pictured on social media last weekend not wearing a mask at the DakotaDome.

Photo courtesy: Kristine Johnson Fraser

However, her office also provided a photo of her masked.

“But I do follow the Board of Regents policies and I do wear a mask when it’s appropriate. And then I don’t when I’m out other places outside and in smaller groups and with my family,” Governor Noem said.

The governor says masking is a personal choice, and that there is one kind of mask that does work.

“The masks that are effective have been shown to be the N-95s, as long as people wear them properly,” Noem said.

However, State epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton sent out this study that says community use of cloth masks can help control the spread of COVID-19.

Noem says the rise of COVID-19 in surrounding states shows mask policies don’t necessarily work.

Noem: And then I trusted the people of this great state to take personal responsibility,

Kennecke: Are South Dakotans truly taking personal responsibility?

Noem: I believe they are. You don’t think the people of South Dakota are taking the pandemic seriously?

Kennecke: But do you think we’d have these kinds of numbers?

Noem: I think we’re in a period of time when we are seeing an increase of positive cases in South Dakota. There’s definitely different components to why we are seeing that. We are testing much more than we did back in June, July and August.

Governor Noem continues to insist that it’s the media making South Dakota look bad, that COVID tracking numbers show South Dakota is one of many states seeing rising numbers of COVID-19.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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