In a crowded room in Orlando, Fla., South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) spoke about her state’s COVID-19 response to the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a response that was notably different from most other states.
Over the course of the pandemic, South Dakota never implemented a statewide mandatory mask requirement, nor did it even shutter businesses and churches.
Schools have reopened, and the state still managed to host its annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August of 2020 despite the summer COVID-19 outbreak.
Keeping with CPAC’s theme of upholding state’s rights past the reach of the federal government, Noem explained that her decisions came from “arbitrary restrictions” that weren’t suited to each state and that mitigating the spread would hurt the state’s economy.
As Noem touts her state has the nation’s lowest unemployment rate, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports it was about 3 percent in December 2020 — well below the U.S.’s 6.3 unemployment rate. She largely credits this to not shutting down businesses during the pandemic.
“COVID didn’t crush the economy,” she said. “Government crushed the economy.”
In making these decisions, Noem stated that she defied recommendations from the lead advisor on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Anthony Fauci.
Fauci has consistently advocated the use of face masks and social distancing to mitigate COVID-19 spread as vaccines become more widely distributed.
“Now Dr. Fauci,” Noem began, “he told me on my worst day, I’d have 10,000 patients in the hospital. On our worst day, we had a little over 600.”
The CPAC crowd began cheering, to which Noem continued to say “Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot.”
This prompted a standing ovation.
Speaking to CBS News on Sunday, Fauci was quick to offer a rebuttal, saying Noem’s comments were “unfortunate” and “not really helpful.”
“Sometimes you think things are going well and just take a look at the numbers,” he continued. “They don’t lie … ” Click source below to read more.