South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Says Mt. Rushmore Trump Rally Attendees ‘Would Not Be Social Distancing’
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said thousands of attendees of a July 3 rally at Mount Rushmore with President Donald Trump would “not be social distancing.”
“You know Laura, in South Dakota, we’ve told people to focus on personal responsibility. Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they’re comfortable with. So, we will be having celebrations of American independence,” Noem told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home. But those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we won’t be social distancing.”
Noem has not imposed any lockdown measures in the state. There have been only 6,764 confirmed coronavirus cases and 91 related deaths in South Dakota with its total population of 900,000 residents. However, South Dakota’s Department of Health website recommends that citizens should “avoid close contact with people… stay at home as much as possible,” and “put distance between yourself and other people.” It also says, “everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.”
Health experts have expressed concerned that a crowd of 7,500 that is expected to attend, along with the lack of social distancing, will cause a new spike in coronavirus cases in nearby communities.
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South Dakota State Medical Association President Dr. Ben Aaker told reporters that not following social distancing rules and other safety precautions would be a reason to be concerned.
“Right now, we feel that we have enough beds for what we’re currently undergoing, but if we have large events such as this event at Mount Rushmore, that has the potential to overwhelm the hospital system,” Aaker said.
Michael Klatt, a retired public health advisor, who previously worked for CDC and state of South Dakota, said that the celebration would be “a perfect storm for an easy transmission of this deadly disease.”
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