South Dakota District 20 legislators headed to Pierre with varying levels of concern regarding the threat of COVID-19 in Pierre.
Rep. Paul Miskimins, R-Mitchell, said he would be more concerned about the virus if he had not already contracted COVID-19 earlier this winter, one of more than 105,000 South Dakotans who have tested positive for the virus. He said it was a mild case but he will still take care and wear a mask at the Capitol to protect others.
“I was fortunate to not get a severe case of it,” he said. “So I’m a little less worried about it because I’ve had it and I should have the antibodies.”
Miskimins’ colleague Rep. Lance Koth, R-Mitchell, said he is cautiously concerned. He said he and his wife have not gone out much over the last number of months because of the virus. That’s mainly because Koth’s 99-year-old mother-in-law lives with them and he wants to protect her.
“I’m not running footloose and fancy free,” Koth said. “I’m OK with going to Pierre, but I’m erring on the side of caution.”
Koth said that he feels strongly that the legislature needs to be working in person, because it’s difficult to operate efficiently for lawmaking online or over the computer. He said he was OK with the proposed laws in the two chambers of the Legislature for masks, which are in the process of being finalized.
Sen. Josh Klumb, R-Mitchell, said he was not particularly concerned the COVID-19 risks in Pierre. He said less concern should be placed on wearing masks to prevent catching the virus but rather to prepare the body to fight the virus once COVID-19 is contracted.
“A virus is going to be a virus,” Klumb said. “At first, we heard that we need to wear a mask to flatten the curve and now it seems like we need to wear masks to not catch it, but I think you’re going to catch it. To me, it’s about making sure your body is ready to fight it. That’s still really important.”
Klumb said the vaccine may help and it will lessen people’s chances of catching it, but “we will still have people who will catch it, and I think it’s more important to be as prepared as possible for it.”
Miskimins said he is eager for South Dakotans to be able to get vaccines and grateful for the science and hard work that allowed it to happen. He said he's also taken time to think about the South Dakotans who have died as a result of coronavirus, which numbers 1,667 as of Monday.
“The vaccine, it's been a terrific development and it will allow us to be able to put this difficult time in the past,” Miskimins said.