White House task force says South Dakota needs aggressive COVID-19 action

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — According to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, South Dakota needs to change course when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Given the extraordinarily high test positivity and incidence, among the highest in the world, aggressive measures to limit additional hospital overruns and preventable mortality are warranted and strongly recommended,” the task force said in its November 22 report. KELOLAND News reviewed a copy of the report shared by the Center for Public Integrity.

“Requirements for face coverings, particularly in indoor public or commercial settings, have been shown to improve adherence and reduce transmission,” the report said in recommendations to officials in South Dakota.

The task force also put the statement of face covering requirements into the recommendations for Alaska.

While all 50 states received state-specific recommendations and comments, there was one statement that applied to all.

The 50 states should “ensure that masks are worn at all times in public, increase physical social distancing through a significant reduction in the capacity of private and public indoor spaces, and ensure that every American understands the obvious risks of ANY family or friend interaction outside of their immediate household indoors without a mask,” the report states.

The task force praised South Dakota for the recent testing expansion, but also said it should be maximized. The state should also ensure that all clinical facilities, including mid-level and rural, have up-to-date emergency and expansion plans.

South Dakota ranked in the top 10 in several coronavirus categories from Nov. 9-20, according to the coronavirus task force.

South Dakota had the ninth highest positivity rate in the United States. The state had nearly 2.5 times the national average of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000. The state rate was 988 deaths per 100,000, compared to 365 per 100,000 for the national average.

During the week of Nov. 9 to Nov. 15, 45% of nursing homes across the state had at least one resident with a case of COVID-19, 71% had a staff member with a case, and 21% of nursing homes had at least one case. Death from covid19.

At a Nov. 18 news conference, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem urged the public to be more diligent with personal hygiene and to stay home when ill, such as means of protecting the vulnerable population.

Throughout the pandemic, Noem said she doesn’t believe she has the power to enforce mask-wearing and that she trusts the people of South Dakota to take responsible action to reduce the spread of COVID- 19. Mandates and freezes hurt businesses, Noem said.

At a press conference on November 18, Noem said, “I’ve always said that people who want to wear masks should wear masks and people who don’t shouldn’t be shamed for choosing not to.”

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