‘I Believe In Our Freedoms And Liberties’: South Dakota Governor Responds To Critics Of State’s Coronavirus Response

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Republican Gov. Kristi Noem appeared on Thursday night’s “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News to react to critics of her state’s coronavirus pandemic response.

Particularly after the closure of a South Dakota pork processing plant due to the spread of coronavirus among hundreds of its employees, Noem has taken some heat for her refusal to issue a mandatory stay at home order.

Before introducing her guest, Fox News host Laura Ingraham pointed out that the state is now being portrayed by the media as a “COVID hot-spot” despite only 1,311 cases and 7 deaths from the virus.


“We’ve got one issue in a pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but outside of that, two-thirds of our state has no cases or one case in an entire county,” said Noem. “So we are doing very well as a state. We are addressing the one hot spot that we do have and aggressively testing in that area, but what you talked about, Laura, is exactly right. We should be tracking who’s in the hospital, what the death rate is and South Dakotans are doing a fantastic job following my recommendations and we’ve been able to keep our businesses open and allow people to take on some personal responsibility.”

The South Dakota governor told Ingraham that the media is “neglecting” to tell people that “this processing plant is critical infrastructure” and would have been “up and running” whether or not any shelter-in-place order was in effect.

“The people of South Dakota can be trusted to make good decisions,” she said before giving her state’s citizens credit for flattening the curve significantly. “We have common sense. That’s why people want to live here that’s why I love living here.”

Noem then responded to Ingraham’s contention that the media is “treating you guys like pariahs.”

“They are and I had a real honest conversation with the people in our state,” said Noem. “I told them I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of our state, of South Dakota. I took an oath when I was in Congress, obviously, to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I believe in our freedoms and liberties.” (RELATED: KIRK: One Governor Has Risen Above The Coronavirus Hysteria And Is Defending The Constitution)

“What I’ve seen across the country is so many people give up their liberties for just a little bit of security,” she continued. “And they don’t have to do that. If a leader will take too much power in a time of crisis, that is how we lose our country. So I felt like I’ve had to use every single opportunity to talk about why we slow things down, we make decisions based on science and facts and make sure that we’re not letting emotion grab a hold of the situation.”

Almost 600 employees and 135 close contacts of infected employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the Smithfield Foods, Inc. plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, according to Forbes. That number represents more than half of the state’s overall cases to date.