Governor Noem working to bring state employees back to work


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem said Friday she is working to bring state employees back to work, while making sure it’s done in a responsible manner.

State employees are preparing to physically return to work, but Noem says it’ll be different for every agency and department, depending on the kind of services they offer.

Noem announced in a news release later Friday that she had signed a new Executive Order that provides cabinet secretaries and bureau commissioners the authority to have all employees come back to the office. The EO still allows admininstrative leave for employees who cannot come in and cannot work remotely. It also allows for approved out-of-state work-related travel. This executive order rescinds Executive Order 2020-09 and is effective through May 31.

“Many of the folks in Labor have been showing up every day for long hours already because of the unemployment filing claims that need to happen,” Noem said.

Some departments will stagger shifts, while others will bring back a certain portion of employees for onsite work.

“Each cabinet secretary will be given the opportunity to make the best decisions for their workforce that facilitates getting the work done and also protecting those employees,” Noem said.

The Governor also continues to have conversations with Smithfield Foods as the two sides work to get the plant back up and running.

“The state is facilitating providing personal protective equipment for them and also testing for them, and we’re hopeful that by in the coming days they’ll be able to get back online. But, we’ll have more details when the USDA comes forward with some guidance as well for the facilities across the nation,” Noem said.

As the number of positive COVID-19 cases surpasses 2,500 in South Dakota, the state has a capacity of 3,000 tests per day, but isn’t seeing that level of people being tested.

“The 3,000 per day, in terms of processing those tests, would happen at labs at a lot of different levels, so that could happen at the local community level, that would include the state public health lab, and it also includes some commercial lab capacity that hospitals and other providers have the ability to access,” Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said.

Noem added that the supply chain for testing has improved in recent days, and she doesn’t anticipate a shortage in the future.

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