South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

Gov. Kristi Noem, a Trump acolyte has consistently played down the seriousness of the pandemic. 

Although South Dakota managed to avoid the full brunt of the pandemic when it first swept states like New York and California, Noem’s mishandling of the virus has changed the pandemic calculus. 

Kristi Noem

She opposed imposing a mask mandate, leaving it up to individuals to decide and she endorsed crowded gatherings with no social distancing, during the  Trump rally at Mount Rushmore in July.

Today, South Dakota has the nation’s highest positivity rate. The seven-day positivity rate is at nearly 60 percent.  according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

Noem’s neglect has caused South Dakota to average 1,400 new coronavirus cases a day, amid a population of less than one million.  On a per-capita basis, it’s the second highest average of new cases in the country. 

More people are hospitalized per capita than in any other state, according to Tracking Project.

While South Dakota’s COVID-19 rate soared, she showed an incredible naivete about the impact on state residents. 

In an op-ed column she defended her mostly hands-off approach to the virus. She never issued a stay-at-home order, for example — while also arguing that there is no need for a mask mandate at this point.

Critics have accused Noem of playing politics with the virus in an effort to curry favor with the ex-president.  She’s reportedly angling for a potential spot on the national ticket in four years.

Noem’s actions in regard to the virus have been downright criminal.

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