Recapping our virtual congressional town hall

Local News

Earlier Monday night KELOLAND Media Group brought all three members of South Dakota’s congressional delegation together for a town hall about the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic as well as what comes next. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem declined our invitation to participate.

One topic receiving attention during the town hall is beef prices. Cattle producers are receiving less for their product, but beef prices are up.

“Frankly prices were not great before COVID-19, but they’ve gotten a lot worse, and the specific question is, who’s getting that money?” Rep. Dusty Johnson said. “Well it’s the packer in the middle, and the reality is we do not have enough capacity in the middle and the processing stage, and we don’t have enough competition in that space. We’ve got four major packers who control 85 percent of the market, and it’s a tight-capacity environment.”

School safety came up, too, in a question from Marilyn.

“You cannot have schools going back in safely unless you can test, monitor temperatures and so forth, and really put out some really strict standards about if anybody’s sick staying home, and that means more communicating from home,” Sen. Mike Rounds said. “But until you get those schools open again, it’s really tough for both mom and dad to go back to work as well, so this is part of reopening the economy.”

“I’m hoping that by the time that school rolls around next fall, that we don’t have just millions of tests, but we have tens of millions of tests, and maybe more than that by then,” Sen. John Thune said. “Until we get a vaccine, until we get an antiviral therapeutic, we just have to have massive amounts of tests so we can tell who has it and who doesn’t have it.”

Viewer Marlene asked for a rating on how the Trump administration has responded to COVID-19.

“I think when you look at what this administration has done, it absolutely gets a good grade, but at least at the congressional level, we’re not backing off, there is a lot more to do,” Johnson said.

“Overall, I’m going to say we’ve responded, but I wish we would have been able to respond more quickly than what we did,” Rounds said.

“I just think it’s a work in progress, and I’ve always said the biggest room in the house is the room for improvement, and there are a lot of things we can do better and need to be done better, and testing is one of them,” Thune said.

Click here to watch the full town hall.

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