South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) gave an address on Tuesday in which she defiantly doubled down on her state’s relaxed lockdown measures amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Noem is one of the few governors who has not imposed statewide stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, or business restrictions. In her address, she vowed that South Dakota will remain open as the nation deals with a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
“For those who have spent the last nine months shut down or locked up in other states, South Dakota is open,” Noem said. “We have stayed open the entire time, and that’s how we will operate for as long as I am governor.”
She went on to promote the thriving economy in South Dakota.
“We’re in a much stronger financial position than other states across the country. States that shut down their economies are now looking at tax increases or drastic spending cuts to make ends meet,” she said, later writing on social media that “businesses are flocking to South Dakota”
South Dakota's strong economy:
-New home construction UP 1.6x the national average
-Construction employment UP 10%
-Ongoing revenues UP $95 million dollars, 11% higher than last year
-Corn production UP 35%
-Soybean production UP 58%
And businesses are flocking to South Dakota.
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) January 12, 2021
“We made different choices than virtually any other state over the past year. … But other states based a lot of their decisions on fear and emotion, and now they’re seeing the results of that,” Noem continued. “In South Dakota, we do not make policy out of fear. We prepare for the worst but always remain optimistic that the best is yet to come.”
Last month, Noem defended her relaxed lockdown plans in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, criticizing other states like New York and Illinois for taking their measures way too far and destroying lives in the process.
“Even amid a pandemic, public policy ought to be holistic,” Noem wrote. “Daily needs must still be met. People need to eat and keep a roof over their heads. And they still need purpose. That means policy makers cannot have tunnel vision. They must balance public-health concerns with people’s mental and emotional needs, their economic livelihoods and social connections, and liberty, among many other important factors.”