Governor Noem applauds efforts of South Dakota National Guard


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Wednesday morning, the Health Department confirmed another five people have died due to COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 29. As the number of positive cases nears 2,800, Governor Kristi Noem wants you to know about the role the South Dakota National Guard is playing in the fight against COVID-19.

Governor Kristi Noem says over the past two days, health officials have tested about 2,600 Smithfield employees and their family members for the coronavirus. The mass testing is a team effort that included staffing by the South Dakota National Guard.

“We knew they would be ready, they always are, but I don’t want anyone to take for granted how blessed we are to have men and women in our South Dakota National Guard that continue to step up,” Governor Kristi Noem said.

The National Guard is also helping with contact tracing in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, and has 25 ambulance teams waiting in the wings, including four air support teams.

“The air ones, we’ve had conversations that they would probably be utilized to bring patients in from remote areas, so areas that they needed to move a patient quickly and could get them up off the ground in a remote area and get them to a hospital to get extended care,” Noem said.

State employees are preparing to move back into their offices, with each agency and department conducting individual evaluations.

“The Cabinet Secretaries all are doing an evaluation on what that looks like for their agencies and are ready to implement that, and I know many of them have even started that process this week,” Noem said.

Noem was also asked about the potential for a special legislative session.

“I think originally the thought and conversation has been around having a special session in June and I’m not sure that’s necessary at this point in time. If we do have the ability through Treasury guidance to utilize some of the federal funds we may want to come back later towards September,” Noem said.

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.

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