The Governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, mocked President-elect Joe Biden’s message, which reassured struggling Americans on Twitter as COVID-19 deaths in South Dakota reach new heights.
Twittering a message of hope on Wednesday for Americans facing the hardships of a global pandemic – now approaching its ninth month in the U.S. – Biden wrote that “help is on the way” as he prepares to assume the presidential role next month. Noem mocked his message with a quoted phrase, “I come from the government, and I am here to help,” which then-president Ronald Reagan called “the nine scariest words in the English language” during a 1986 press conference.
“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” https://t.co/GHjWPjwFcR pic.twitter.com/brznNkmcDh
– Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) December 2, 2020
Noem’s tweet comes while South Dakota continues to see an increase in coronavirus deaths and hospital admissions – a trend the state has seen in the past two months. On Wednesday, South Dakota reported 47 new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 995 across the state. South Dakota has seen a 47 percent increase in deaths in the past two weeks, consistent with two weeks earlier data showing a 46 percent increase. Currently, the number of deaths is 112 COVID – 19 deaths per 100,000 people – and the daily average of deaths in the state last week was 18 percent, according to the New York Times data.
South Dakota also has the highest per capita rate of hospital admissions in the nation – with Indiana ranking second based on data from the COVID Tracking Project. The state’s test positive rate of 41 percent is also one of the highest in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University. Fortunately, the number of new cases reported each week has been steadily decreasing, with 6,053 cases reported last week, down from nearly 10,000 just two weeks earlier.
While South Dakota continues to struggle with COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, Noem has consistently opposed a statewide mask mandate, despite the fact that the state has the worst COVID-19 record in the nation. At a press conference on November 18, Noem said that her powers as governor do not allow her to enforce a nationwide masking mandate. She also claimed that she was “more concerned about how neighbors treat their neighbors” than about the benefits of a nationwide masking mandate.
“Some have said that my refusal to grant a mask mandate is a reason that our cases are increasing here in South Dakota, and that’s not true,” Noem said.
“I have said time and again that people who want to wear masks should wear masks, and people who don’t want to should not be ashamed because they don’t want to,” she added. In the meantime, neighboring states such as North Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota have issued nationwide masking mandates to combat the rapid spread of the virus.
Last week, the White House Coronavirus Task Force made specific recommendations to all 50 states to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The task force recommended that South Dakota mandate face masks in public places and suggested that “aggressive measures” be taken to slow the spread.
“Given the extraordinarily high test positivity and incidence, among the highest in the world, aggressive measures to limit additional hospital attacks and avoidable mortality are justified and strongly recommended,” the report said.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Biden introduced top advisors to his administration, who he says will help rebuild the U.S. economy, which continues to suffer from the coronavirus pandemic. He also took the opportunity to send a message of hope to the Americans: “I know times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way”.
Biden said he had chosen a “first-rate team” of liberal advisers who were “tested and experienced” in dealing with economic inequality and in overcoming the current economic crisis.
“From the most unequal economic and jobs crisis in modern history, we can build a new American economy that works for all Americans, not just some,” he said in his speech in Wilmington, Delaware.