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Adelstein: Rapid City Adopts Tough Shutdown Ordinance, Has Only 2% of State’s Coronavirus Cases

Rapid City shut down bars, restaurants, and other coronavirus-transmission locations on March 27. Sioux Falls mayor Paul TenHaken has expressed disapproval of patrons gathering at bars and such but has issued expectations and recommendations for modification of business practices and has maintained that his city lacks the authority to shut down businesses.

Former legislator Stanford Adelstein, who pays good money to help this blog stay online, looks at those cities’ differing approaches to pandemic prevention and their coronavirus counts and sees a logical connection:

Chart of coronavirus cases in South Dakota counties, April 4-7, 2020.
Stanford Adelstein; chart of coronavirus cases in South Dakota counties, April 4-7, 2020; “An Open Letter to Governor Noem,” A Way to Go, 2020.04.07.

The Minne-Linc metroplex, home to South Dakota’s largest city and 24% of South Dakota’s population, has 59% of its coronavirus cases. Pennington County, home to South Dakota’s second-largest city and 11% of the state’s population, has 2% of the state’s coronavirus cases.

That’s correlation, not rigorous epidemiology, but Adelstein cites those figures in his open letter to Governor Kristi Noem, “begging” her to follow the other 45 states that have issued shutdown orders. “It is foolish and almost murderous to ‘leave it to personal judgment’,” writes Adelstein.


  1. Scott 2020-04-07 19:26

    I noticed this morning that Pennington County had a low number of cases. I watched the Rapid City meeting on a Sunday night when they had first reading of their ordinance. This ordinance I believe was the direct result of a letter to the editor written by a group of Rapid City doctors.

    It would appear that Rapid City is a leader in getting this right and their actions are showing success.

  2. John 2020-04-07 20:16

    Stronger community response to pandemic yields better economic response.
    Note the difference between Minneapolis vs St. Paul — across the river.

    The governor could consider leading, for a change. It’s a $1000 fine for violating social distancing and shelter-in-place in NYC. Get serious. So we don’t have to do this later in 2020 or in 2021.

  3. jerry 2020-04-07 20:36

    I think this is what you see in a one term governor, and what you see with the new governor…if he wants the job. Da mayor has shown leadership over and over again in the past, and he has risen to the occasion with this virus. GNOem has shown utter incompetence and continues to do the bidding of who knows…ALEC? Koch Brothers… someone who is clearly not in the state of South Dakota that seems to be for sure.

  4. S 2020-04-07 21:05

    As one of the organizers of the physician letter, I wish I could say for certain the numbers are real. Unfortunately, the fact that there are fewer reported cases in Pennington County probably relates more to the fact that there is very little testing going on because the criteria for the tests are so strict. Those tests that are done are sent out and have been taking WEEKS to get back. Regional Health née Monument Health still can’t do the tests themselves. The statements being made that “there is little or no evidence” of Covid 19 is because no one is looking for evidence. It’s here. Ignorance is bliss.

  5. Donald Pay 2020-04-07 21:43

    What S said. If RC has six positives out of only six tests, that ain’t necessarily good. We got to have more information about how many are being tested, the testing protocols, etc.

  6. cibvet 2020-04-08 00:25

    And then there are these morons ‘Liberty’ Rebellion in Idaho Threatens to Undermine Coronavirus Orders

  7. Debbo 2020-04-08 00:46

    Apparently one of the tropes of right wing media is that the virus is just a means to introduce communism into the USA. They go nuts over communism. But aren’t these the same people who were okay with Liar-in-Chief cozying up to #1 Communist Pootie?

    A couple days ago a guy who pilots a locomotive in CA thought he’d plow it off the pier and into the US Navy hospital ship Mercy. He’d heard from right wing lying media that it and the other ship in NY, the Comfort, were fakes and really part of a Deep State plot.

    We have to amend the constitution some how to stop those lying media traitors. They’re creating terrible havoc in our country. People are dying because of them.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-08 06:42

    Communism isn’t killing our neighbors right now; coronavirus is. Communism—communal action, government orders, rationing of goods—is saving lives while capitalism goes on sick leave.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-08 06:45

    Great article, John, and fascinating to compare two cities side by side with differing responses. Stronger restrictions now mean fewer deaths, lower demands on the social safety net, and better economic growth in the long run (and we all have to look at the long run).

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-08 06:46

    S, that lack of tests is an alarming challenge to Adelstein’s hypothesis. Is there any sign of increased hospital admissions or increased deaths from respiratory disease?

  11. denson 2020-04-08 08:44

    Anyone who downplays the COVID-19 threat should try this to-nite whilst you lay awake: breath thru your nose, with your right pinky sealing your right nostril and your left pinky almost sealing your left nostril. When you panic for air you will realize what could happen if you or your child contracts this killer virus.

  12. jerry 2020-04-08 09:05

    Dr. Nancy Babbitt’s article in the Rapid City Journal confirms what s says and why the mayor and Mr. Adelstein are demanding leadership. Her statements in the article, are truly disgusting.

    “Dr. Nancy Babbitt at Creekside told the Journal on March 19 that Sanford Lab would receive thousands of testing kits this week for COVID-19, which is where Creekside would be able to send their tests for processing. She said she was excited that her clinic would have testing capability by Monday.

    Yet, Babbitt posted on Facebook Wednesday that the thousands of testing kits she was promised for COVID-19 were “diverted to more critical areas.”

    She said Wednesday that thousands of patients had called her desperately seeking COVID-19 tests, many who were ill with high fevers, cough and respiratory symptoms.

    She wrote that many of these patients had been to the emergency room or urgent care clinics and were told they didn’t qualify for testing, after testing negative for influenza or strep throat.” Rapid City Journal 3/27/2020

    The facts are clear, the lame duck governor is not providing he leadership it takes to get those kits and supplies to the citizens of South Dakota. I would say that maybe this is just to much for her and that she should pass the leadership onto Rhoden, but alas, he is worse. The governor needs to lead not retreat.

  13. jerry 2020-04-08 09:24

    trump and republican leadership knew the virus was coming in late November that it was not a hoax and that it was an outbreak.

    “As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing the patterns of life and business and posing a threat to the population, according to four sources briefed on the secret reporting.”

  14. dave 2020-04-08 10:28

    look folks, there is a plan in place to deal with this… in order to get the state economy back up to speed as quickly as possible, the plan is to let the virus run its course. Health systems across the state are gearing up to deal with the cases, even the national guard is setting up field hospitals.

    listen to what the governator says – we cant stop it, its your own fault if you get it, follow cdc guidelines, pray.

    we are currently running between 14 and 17% infection rate as reported. that will put us at 70% of population on may 24th more or less… the math is scary

  15. jerry 2020-04-08 11:16

    Bernie Sanders has ended his presidential run. Republicans, of any sense, Independents and of course, Democrats now is the time to get it together and run the incompetence out of the way. VOTE BLUE, THAT’S WHO!!! VOTE BIDEN/WARREN

  16. Debbo 2020-04-08 14:45

    Minnesota Gov. Walz has extended our shutdown, which was supposed to end this Friday. (My birthday. 😁) The new end date is May 4.

    Per the U of Washington’s respected model, this order has sliced Minnesota’s death rate in HALF, from 2000 to 1000. That’s a lot of saved lives. City Pages, no paywall

  17. Debbo 2020-04-08 15:05

    National Memo has a brief piece on the 7 GOP governors who have not issued shut downs and their excuses for same. Oh, they all got disaster $ from their Daddy in DC.

  18. Debbo 2020-04-08 15:15

    This is very, very sad. Sheila Kennedy is quoting a Kaiser Family Foundation study which predicts that

    “much of the American South will experience ‘a disaster beyond imagining, and it’s one that won’t be neatly limited to those who partied on the beach or those who nod along when Rush Limbaugh calls COVID-19 ordinary flu.’ ”

    The article describes how the Southern governors have enabled this disaster. It’s chiefly due to craven, inhumane expediency. It enrages me.

  19. jerry 2020-04-08 15:58

    Debbo, those poor people are listening to Fox and drivel like this, that is to me, criminal.
    “Laura Ingraham

    At some point, the president is going to have to look at Drs. Fauci and Birx and say, we’re opening on May 1. Give me your best guidance on protocols, but we cannot deny our people their basic freedoms any longer.

    8:13 AM – Apr 8, 2020”

    Pure horse crap, these dangerous people should be sued.

  20. mike from iowa 2020-04-08 16:13

    OT Linda Tripp no longer wastes space and uses oxygen.

  21. jerry 2020-04-08 18:24

    New York City will now count those who have died at home from the virus. That should be done in South Dakota as well.

    “”The coronavirus death count in New York City, already unfathomable, is expected to surge in the coming days as officials begin including people who have been dropping dead at home without an official diagnosis.

    Emergency Medical Service data first reported by Gothamist suggests the undercount of individuals who have likely died from the virus is massive. On Tuesday alone, 256 people were pronounced dead at home across the five boroughs. Until this month, about 25 people in New York City were found dead in their homes on a typical day, suggesting that most of Tuesday’s calls were related to the outbreak that has already killed over 5,400 people across the state and infected 140,386 more.”

    What are we gonna do here in July and August when a half million bikers from all over the world come to Sturgis after traveling and stopping all over South Dakota. Should be interesting and deadly.

  22. mike from iowa 2020-04-08 18:55

    Publisher of hydroxychloroquine study touted by Trump says the research didn’t meet its standards

    There’s moar…. But now the medical society that published that French research has issued a statement saying the study “does not meet the Society’s expected standard.”
    Dr. Kevin Tracey, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in New York City, gave an even more pointed assessment of the French research.

    “The study was a complete failure,” he said.

  23. mike from iowa 2020-04-08 19:04

    A hospital in France has had to stop an experimental treatment using hydroxychloroquine on at least one coronavirus patient after it became a “major risk” to their cardiac health.

    The University Hospital Center of Nice (CHU de Nice) is one of many hospitals trialing hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients. It announced it had been selected for the trial on March 22. A statement from the hospital said it was testing four experimental treatments, one of which included hydroxychloroquine. It hoped to establish its effectiveness and side effects of this and the other treatments being tested.

  24. Debbo 2020-04-08 20:19

    I thought the GOP hated all thing European and especially, French.

  25. denson 2020-04-08 21:57

    Re Rapid City Journal: “There are 73 new cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota as of Wednesday, the largest single-day jump in numbers reported by the state Department of Health this far in the pandemic.” Yet at today’s (Wednesday) Noem CV-19 press briefing not ONE tough question by SD news reporters…they treat Kristi with kid gloves….Minnesota with population over 6X of SD has “only” 3X the number dead…and today about the same(SD=+73, MN=+85) number of new cases…What the heck is the hotspot in Minnehaha County?

  26. mike from iowa 2020-04-09 07:47

    Last updated: April 09, 2020, 12:23 GMT
    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    Nearly 2000 US deaths yesterday. One hospitaql ship has an infected crew member. 6.6 moar unemployed for the week. And it might snow some Sunday.

  27. jerry 2020-04-09 10:13

    The government’s answer to unemployment, more loans. When you’re broke and up to your neck in debt, trump’s answer is to toss you an anvil. They need to provide grants to get this place back to running until these stupid tariffs and trade wars are eliminated. We can see how loans work in farm country, they just enslave you while you have no market to sell to.

  28. jerry 2020-04-09 13:17

    We still don’t have a clue on how many people are infected, or died from this virus. Not a clue and not a plan. What a failure of leadership.

    “The U.S. health care system’s response to the coronavirus has exposed many blind spots: the inability to quickly create a test that could be deployed widely, the lack of personal protective equipment for front-line doctors and nurses, and a lack of basic data on hospitalizations to help make informed decisions.

    “We’re in a fog because we have so little reliable data,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, which has been studying hospital capacity.”

  29. Donald Pay 2020-04-09 13:52

    denson asks: “What the heck is the hotspot in Minnehaha County?”

    Smithfield Foods has a massive problem. The workers there are considered “essential,” probably because they are involved in the food chain. No distancing on the chain, I guess. They say it doesn’t taint the food. I’d like to see the data on that. I suppose cooking destroys the virus. Want to see the data on that, too.

  30. denson 2020-04-09 16:49

    The new positive cases of COVID-19 confirmed today were contacted up to 14 days ago so unfortunately, expect more positive cases in the days ahead. Again at Thursday’s presser, The Governor stresses personal responsibility as the best precaution and even goes as far to say that workers who fear contamination at work need to make the personal choice to stay sheltered at home. Yet they would probably be fired and most certainly would not be eligible for a dime of South Dakota “reemployment” if the did get fired. Of course not one reporter cornered her on that fact….

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