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South Dakota Did Not Lock Down, Has no Face Mask or Social Distancing Mandates


So How are they doing compared to Maine?

By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, January 27, 2021


   South Dakota Republican Governor, Kristi Noem only issued one executive order throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic and it merely offered suggestions using the word “should,” as in local municipalities should implement the recommendations of the CDC; retail businesses should suspend or modify business practices according to the CDC; employers should implement the CDC recommended hygiene practices; every South Dakotan should review and practice the CDC hygiene practices.  Nowhere in Governor Noem’s executive order is there a mandate that says a person or business must do something, or act a certain way, under penalty of law.

   This is not to say people in South Dakota are not practicing hygiene, distancing or face mask usage, it’s just that the Governor has chosen not to mandate those personal activities under threat of fine or penalty.  South Dakotans have remained free to make their own decisions on their lives and evaluate and accept the risk options without a nanny state dictating what they must and must not do.

   Speaking at Hillsdale College, Governor Noem spoke about liberty and the pandemic.  “In the last six months it has amazed me to watch fear control people; that this pandemic really used emotion and fear to manipulate people in ways that we’ve never seen before. What bothered me early on is recognizing the fact that when you have a leader overstep their authority in a time crisis, that’s when you lose your country,” said Gov. Noem.  “As you travel from state to state you’ll see a lot of challenges.  When you come to South Dakota you realize that our people are happy.  They wake up happy in the morning and they’re optimistic about the future.” 

   Governor Noem admits her state took a unique path in their response to the pandemic.  “We did not lock people up, we did not close any businesses in the State of South Dakota, not once did we issue a shelter in place; I didn’t even define what an essential business was because I don’t believe I have the authority to tell you your business isn’t essential.”

   The data for a free South Dakota  compares similarly with Maine, a state which has a slightly larger population  but at least as much rural real estate.   However, Mainers found themselves trying to navigate an oppressive nanny state under Democrat Governor, Janet “Big Sister” Mills, who  has issued multiple executive orders throughout the pandemic attempting to micromanage the life and business activity of all Mainers, mandating business closures, social distancing and face mask usage which now must be adhered to under penalty of law. 

   As of January 15, 2021, South Dakota had logged around 81 COVID deaths per 100,000 of its population, or about 9 times its deaths per 100,000 of the previous June.  Meanwhile, Maine - even with all the mandatory requirements of social distancing and face mask usage, still had a 5 times increase in its deaths per 100,000 over the same time period.

   According to data compiled at the U.S. CDC, respiratory diseases are the least cause of death in South Dakota.  Like most other states, circulatory disease tops the list of causes of death in South Dakota, followed by cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and, in fourth place, respiratory diseases, a group to which COVID-19 belongs.

   While the COVID deaths in South Dakota briefly peaked to a seven day rolling average of 20 to 25 deaths per day around the first of December, those numbers have been dropping continuously since then and were hovering around 10 per day as of mid-January, 2021.  COVID-19 hospitalizations also peaked in South Dakota to around 600 but have since dropped to the low two hundreds.  As of January 15, there were 227 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in South Dakota, which isn’t that far off from Maine who had 193 hospitalized for COVID at that time.

   South Dakota is only testing around 10,000 people per week but has a relatively high positive case rate of between 30 to 40 percent.  According to Johns Hopkins University, who is tracking the COVID data in the states, a high positive case rate “suggests that a community may largely be testing the sickest patients.”  For example, only testing those who come to the hospital with symptoms, like is normally done for seasonal flu.  This seems to be the situation as reflected in the COVID Tracking Project’s graph analysis for the South Dakota which shows daily tests decreasing concurrently with those who are actually hospitalized for COVID-19.  Maine, on the other hand is testing a massive 60,000 people per week and has a much lower 6 to 8 percent positive rate, which means they are testing mostly healthy people.  

   Actual new COVID-19 cases in South Dakota have dropped below 500 per day in mid January with no mask or social distancing mandates from their Governor.  Meanwhile, Maine - with mask and social distancing mandates - is experiencing around 600 new cases per day, a number that is continually trending upward.

    South Dakota’s health care system is in pretty good shape.  As of January 15, only 8.3% of the occupied hospital beds were for COVID-19 patients and 38.9% of their total hospital bed inventory was empty; 22.4% of South Dakota’s occupied ICU beds were for COVID-19.  Maine has comparable ICU numbers, with around 20% of its occupied ICU beds being with COVID patients.

      While health and well-being are highly intricate and the numbers between two states of similar size and demographics can be tricky and at times confusing, the overall comparison is that South Dakota may actually be doing better than Maine because people were not denied access to cancer treatments, as Mainers were in the outset of the pandemic.  The suicide rates among those states that took excessive measures is also being shown to be much higher than before the pandemic began being marketed by the establishment media.  Long-term negative health effects such as suicides, domestic violence homicides are also smaller in States with less stress.  Maine, with its excessive mandates has seen a marked increase in both suicide and domestic violence homicide as well as deaths from opioid drug overdoses.  Since these deaths are correlated to the COVID-19 response, they must, to be fair and accurate, also be added into the overall COVID-19 death results.   At the end of the day, when all ancillary deaths due to the stress of mandates and lockdowns are tallied, we may find that South Dakota has ended up doing much better than Maine, and the other states that tried the central planning model of authority and mandates.  South Dakota, then has set the standard for successfully merging liberty into a pandemic.