PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) addressed the 120 new COVID-19 cases in the state Tuesday afternoon. The latest coronavirus update from the South Dakota Department of Health increased the state’s total positive cases to 988. 

Noem said we can’t stop the spread of COVID-19; instead, the state is focused on slowing the spread.

“We are flattening our curve in South Dakota,” Noem said.

The governor said a shelter in place order in the past would not have had an impact on the outbreak at Smithfield Foods plant because it is part of the essential food system.

Instead, a targeted, intense approach is being used in connection with the hotspot at Smithfield, the governor said. Smithfield is tied to 70% of Minnehaha County cases, according to the governor. 107 positive patients had contact with Smithfield employees; there are 438 cases in the workers. That brings the total COVID-19 cases with a connection to the plant to 545.

According to New York Times analysis, this would now make the Smithfield Plant the second largest hotspot in the country, surpassing Chicago’s Cook County Jail and just under the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt.

Noem says she is focused on making decisions to do good, not just feel good. She says families who can't pay bills need to reach out to the state for help. There are programs to help them.

The governor says the state expects to share new data points in the next couple of days. She says Sioux Falls may peak earlier than first expected but the state still believes it will be in a good place as far as hospital beds and ventilators.

Secretary of the Department of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon says the state believes it will be able to meet the need even with Sioux Falls peaking early.

She says the drugs used in the clinical trial are not part of the regular supply chain so patients who use hydroxychloroquine for other conditions can still get it.

The South Dakota low sales tax numbers “will be shocking to all of you,” according to Gov. Noem.

Gov. Noem reminded the public to download the Care19 app to help track locations in case they should come down with COVID-19, to help with contact tracing.


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