Noem signs order setting COVID-19 response guidelines; community spread confirmed in 3 counties

PIERRE, S.D. – Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order Monday afternoon “outlining guidelines” for businesses and organizations in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noem said Monday multiple counties now have community spread including Beadle, Lyman, and Hughes County. South Dakota Department of Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon confirmed the sole Hughes County case is a female inmate at the South Dakota Women’s Prison. Officials are investigating who all the woman had come in contact with.

With Veto Day one week away at the capitol, Noem says state leaders are “walking through options” considering public gatherings of more than ten people are discouraged.

Noem’s order outlines what she believes South Dakotan’s should do in response to the COVID-19 pandemic such as following CDC guidelines, knowing the symptoms and who falls in the category of the “vulnerable population.” Noem also reiterates the importance of certain practices like good hygiene and social-distancing.

Businesses are encouraged to suspend or modify their practices to abide by the CDC guidelines. For restaurants, the order encourages business to continue offering takeout, delivery, and curb-side services. The order also urges business owners to get creative with supporting “critical infrastructure sectors” like “healthcare services, pharmaceutical industry, and food supply entities.”

Local governments are also urged to take action in preventing further community spread. Cities and counties across the state have already begun taking steps to limit certain businesses from allowing public gathering spaces or on-sight consumption of food and beverages. Rapid City Council voted Sunday night in special session in favor of closing certain non-essential businesses to the public.  Council members still have to hear the reading of the ordinance a second time on Friday before voting again.

The order addresses healthcare providers by encouraging the postponement of all non-essential elective surgeries to conserve supplies of personal protective equipment.

In answering questions on how the state is able to enforce the order, Noem responded, “This is what I’m telling them to do.” The order is set to expire on May 2 unless amended beforehand.

Tuesday, Noem says the state plans to address next steps for K-12 education and status of state employees.

Earlier Monday, state officials confirmed community spread in the state. The number of coronavirus patients in South Dakota sits at 28 as of Monday afternoon. Three patients are being hospitalized. Six have recovered from the disease.

Nearly 1,000 tests are still pending between commercial laboratories and the state’s Public Health Laboratory. Malsam-Rysdon says the state continues to test cases through the day.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News

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