To the Editor:

Governor Noem, you have been following the Trump playbook of “playing down’” the COVID-19 virus and the benefits of masks/face coverings. Now we know from the tapes of Trump’s exact words in his interviews with Bob Woodward that he understood by early February how powerful and dangerous COVID is — that is airborne and is five times more powerful than a “strenuous flu” and will affect young people, too. Yet he egregiously lied about COVID to Americans for seven months.

When are you going to stop trying to curry favor with the president, stop your self-promotion tours (often at taxpayer expense), and come back to South Dakota instead of making appearances in other states? It’s time for you to lead and educate South Dakotans and follow CDC guidelines about social distancing, wearing masks, and increasing testing.

You appear to be withholding critical information from South Dakotans as you refused a request to release the recent letter from the White House Coronavirus Task Force that notified you that South Dakota’s COVID cases were in the “red zone” (235 per 100,000 compared to the U.S. national average of 88 per 100,000), that South Dakota had the second highest rates of COVID cases and that masks should be work as “continued increasing case counts and remarkably high test positivity in the context of insufficient testing levers (increase testing) were deeply concerning.” Yet your unsatisfactory response was you did not find it “deeply concerning.”

The economic and personal cost from COVID and our rising cases require you to stay in South Dakota and do your job as governor. It’s time to allocate more of the federal COVID dollars for South Dakota citizens, instead of going on a self-promotion tour to other states. It’s time to be the governor of South Dakota and not the lackey of the president.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Joyce Scott

Brookings