Gov. Noem talks leadership during COVID-19 fight


There’s no typical day on the job when you’re leading a state response against a virus that has been declared a pandemic.

“This is really a unique situation. We have not been in this situation before in South Dakota for a very long time. We’re still learning new information every day,” South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said.

Governor Kristi Noem says the state has been preparing for COVID-19 since January.

“We knew what was happening in China. We were watching it. I started learning and researching the virus and how it spreads back then,” Gov. Noem said.

South Dakota’s Emergency Operations Center opened in February, but South Dakota may not see its peak infection rate until May or early June.

“I think I need to be honest with folks. This is just beginning in South Dakota. We’re going to be doing this for many more weeks,” Gov. Noem said.

But all along, leaders at the local, state, and federal levels have been urging people to stay calm.

Volk: How do you yourself not panic?
Gov. Noem: Well, I think so many times you have to keep perspective, and that our job is to take care of people, and that leaders influence others, and that our demeanor and our decision making can influence them and either calm the storm or make it worse.

The governor has to consider all South Dakotans as she makes decisions during what she calls “uncertain times.”

“I try to do what is best, and I know that no matter what decision I make there will be someone that disagrees with it, and I understand that. That’s a responsibility that I’m willing to take on, but I also think in the long run if you’re getting good wisdom and advice and you’re taking the emotion out of it and using your facts and science in this situation to make that decision it will be for the betterment of South Dakota. It will make sure that we have the best results for the people that live here,” Gov. Noem said.

Projections show up to 30% of the state’s population could get the virus, but a majority will be asymptomatic or will have mild illnesses.

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