SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Gov. Kristi Noem announced on Tuesday a “Back to Normal” plan for South Dakota.

The “Back to Normal” plan outlines guidance for individuals, employers, schools, health care providers and local governments. Governor Noem signed an Executive Order Tuesday to put the plan into effect. The governor says the plan puts the decision making “in the hands of the people, where it belongs.”

The new executive order 2020-20 rescinds EO 2020-12. The impact will change how some retail businesses are operating. The EO 2020-12 recommended that retail businesses follow a Center for Disease Control guideline of 10 people or less in an enclosed place where physical distance of six feet is not possible.

EO 2020-12 also recommended that public and private businesses encourage telework and social distancing as well as other measures.

Recommendations or guidelines more in line with 2020-12 may still be in effect in some areas of the state such as Sioux Falls.

Noem also said the stay at home plan for adults 65 and over is still in effect in Minnehaha County.

Noem says some people will never be able to get back to normal due to the deaths from the coronavirus. She says what many people have lost during this pandemic is time as people have been separated.

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Ryson discussed testing at the briefing. She laid out three tiers of action for testing:

  • Diversify testing capabilities
  • Support smaller facilities
  • Support mass testing events

Malsam-Rysdon says the state is able to test 3,000 people per day; so far, testing hasn’t been needed at that level. The State plans to increase the availability to 5,000 people per day.

The governor says as testing is expanded, we will see more COVID-19 cases in South Dakota. She says the state will continue to monitor hospitalization rates and plans to be over-prepared.

Also, if another hotspot arises before the expected mid-June peak in COVID-19, Noem said she’s ready to respond with necessary steps.

State epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton says the need for hospital beds due to COVID-19 has decreased in South Dakota. Clayton says hospital stays are around six days right now. Officials had expected it would be at least seven days before.

Noem says schools should continue remote learning, but they’re allowed to have in-person check-ins. She says districts haven’t been able to connect with all students since schools were closed in March. She says this allows them to check on the students. She reminds schools and students to practice good hygiene if they do have in-person check-ins.

The governor says she doesn’t expect schools will bring back all students before the end of the year, but she is giving districts some flexibility to do gatherings with smaller groups.

Noem says hospitals should protect 30 percent of beds for COVID-19 response along with personal protection equipment.

Noem believes Smithfield Foods could be open in a matter of days. She says protecting people is the goal.

Governor Noem says the state is looking forward to fireworks returning to Mount Rushmore for the Fourth of July. She says they will have to evaluate how to handle the crowds, how many people might attend, etc.