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Science? Kristi Noem Says She’s “Reading It All”, But Says Masks More Risky Than Coronavirus

There she goes again—Governor Kristi Noem is spreading misinformation about coronavirus and masks, saying the risks of the disease are minimal and the research on masks is mixed:

…Noem appears selective in the research she uses for her decisions, pointing to studies that indicate a low health risk from the virus, while downplaying scientific findings that show masks could slow the spread of the disease.

“We cannot sacrifice the educational, physical, emotional and social well-being of our kids. The risks of COVID are too minimal for us to make sure that they’re all going to stay home,” Noem said at a news conference at John Harris Elementary in Sioux Falls.

Noem said forcing children to wear masks is impractical and may lead to infections spreading if children touch their faces more frequently. Her stance on masks defies a push from the South Dakota State Medical Association to require face masks in schools.

…The governor cast doubt on a broad consensus in the medical community, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that wearing a mask could prevent the spread of the coronavirus, saying there is “very mixed research and the science has not proven what’s effective and what isn’t” [Stephen Groves, “Governor Pushes Schools to Remain Open, Disparages Masks,” AP via U.S. News and World Report, 2020.07.28].

Asked what science she’s reading to justify her hogwashery, Noem goes full Sarah Palin:

The governor has repeatedly said she is committed to making decisions based on science. When a reporter asked her how she prioritizes the barrage of research to inform her decisions, Noem said: “I am reading it all. And that is why we’ve been challenged because it’s been all over the map” [Groves, 2020.07.28].

Reading all of the science? More like ignoring it. She’s not reading the science from the Mayo Clinic:

Can face masks help slow the spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19? Yes, face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, help slow the spread of the virus [“Covid-19: How Much Protection Do Face Masks Offer?” Mayo Clinic, retrieved 2020.07.29].

…or from Stanford:

I’ve heard so many misconceptions about cloth masks. Some people think that if you wear a mask for long periods of time you will trap and breathe in excess amounts of carbon dioxide, which could lead to brain damage. That’s just not true. A properly constructed mask provides more than enough ventilation. In fact, one way to test if your mask is well made is to try to blow out a candle through the mask from about 1 foot away. If you can’t do so, your mask might be too tightly woven. Other people feel that wearing a mask encourages people to touch their face and to loosen their adherence to other safety precautions like social distancing and hand washing. We’ve found the opposite. Wearing a mask reminds people to continue to be cautious. With a mask on, you actually touch your face less. People who experience skin irritation should ensure their mask has a layer of wicking fabric, like cotton, against the face, and everyone should change the mask if it becomes wet or dirty. Finally, it’s been suggested that mask-wearing may increase the concentration of viral particles around an infected person’s mouth and could increase the severity of the illness. While it’s true that some studies of health care workers have suggested that the viral dose is an important determinant of infection, it’s different for someone who is already infected. If you are sick, you already have the virus in your lungs; it’s not going to get any worse [Senior research scientist Amy Price, Ph.D., in Krista Conger, “5 Questions: Stanford Scientists on Covid-19 Mask Guidelines,” Stanford Medicine News Center, June 2020].

…or from her own Dear Leader:

America’s youth will act responsibly, and we’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask. Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They’ll have an effect. And we need everything we can get [Donald Trump, press conference, White House, 2020.07.21].

Everything you are saying about masks and coronavirus is wrong, Kristi. If you really were reading all of the science, you’d know that.

Related Idiocy: Governor Noem is discouraging schools from setting clear metrics related to infection numbers to determine when to close down. Clear metrics are a benchmark of scientific decision-making. Governor Noem clearly doesn’t want decisions made by science.


  1. ds 2020-07-29 07:35

    Kristi Noem has cast her lot with Donald again. She believed him and pedaled his magic pills until they proved dangerous. She gave him his presidential re-election rally with our taxpayer-paid fireworks. Now she parrots his nonsense on masks while risking the lives of our kids. When,not if,the fatalities start racking up again here in South Dakota we need to throw her and Donald out.

  2. The King 2020-07-29 07:42

    I was shocked to hear our Governor say the best way to ‘kill’ the virus is to wash your hands. Soap does not kill virus, it merely washes it away, which is a great thing. To ignore transmission and exposure through the nose and mouth at this point in the pandemic is dangerous—-that is settled science. Yes, was your hands. Yes, cover you nose and mouth when indoors or in crowded areas. This isn’t an either or situation Governor.

  3. james 2020-07-29 08:27

    Hey Kristi. Try walking into Avera or Sanford demonstrating your “science” by not wearing a mask and dismissing social distancing. Then tell them that you know better than they do about how to fight this pandemic.

    Just do it. It’ll be fun.

  4. jerry 2020-07-29 08:45

    GNOem is proof positive that a corrupt education for some is a huge waste of time and effort. That girl is an ignorant danger to science and to humanity itself. And she spawned, that’s spooky.

  5. Owen 2020-07-29 09:32

    As ds said Noem is casting her lot with Trump. Sadly she’s so busy kissing his butt that she doesn’t seem to realize that she’s spreading misinformation.
    Her argument against masks doesn’t make sense at all.
    Finally, if she wants to help schools then she has to put her wallet where her mouth is and sned schools more money.

  6. o 2020-07-29 09:58

    “You have people who believe they are scientifically literate but, in fact, are not. And I don’t mind if you’re not scientifically literate, but just admit that to yourself, so that you’ll know, and perhaps you can take a first step to try to eradicate that. We’re an elective democracy where science and technology will define where the economically strong countries in the world will be. And science and technological literacy is important for security, as well. You can’t have people making decisions about the future of the world who are scientifically illiterate. That’s a recipe for disaster. And I don’t mean just whether a politician is scientifically literate, but people who vote politicians into office. If you’re not scientifically literate, what kind of society are we living in?”
    – Neil deGrasse Tyson

  7. Buckobear 2020-07-29 10:37

    Next up: Space alien DNA ……..

  8. Nix 2020-07-29 10:40

    Current news reports are that the Covid 19 is slowing on the coasts and
    increasing in the Midwest.
    I just got back from a dispersed cmping week in the National grasslands in Perkins County and dispersed camping in the Southern Hills.
    I drove through Sturgis, Deadwood
    Hill City and Custer.
    Holy cow.
    Virtually every state license plate was seen. People were hanging from the
    Trees. Just packed.

    It’s the perfect storm.
    Stay tuned. Stay Calm.
    The Dope Queen of Delusion has it
    all under control.

  9. Loren 2020-07-29 11:15

    I think Bucko is right, we just have to get a handle on the alien DNA to fight the demons among us. But, not to worry. I understand Kristi has enuf chloroquine stockpiled just in case there is a flare-up. Fercryinoutloud, I came back to SD because I thought the people here were hard working, sensible, salt of the earth. I didn’t actually expect them to SALT THE EARTH! !@#%^&*

  10. bearcreekbat 2020-07-29 11:20

    Nix, what percentage of the people you saw on your excursion were wearing masks? My recent tourist sightings in Keystone, Hill City and Spearfish revealed almost no one at all in the crowded streets and parking areas wearing masks. Apparently the anti-mask hype being spread by our brilliant Governor has infected a lot of visitors to SD.

  11. mike from iowa 2020-07-29 12:19

    Noem Nothing can’t not know she is spreading bullpucky and doing her constituents a horrible disservice. She needs her lying arse sued in federal court in front of a Liberal appointed judge who hasn’t sworn fealty to drumpf’s lies.

    I do not see endangering people’s lives with demonstrably false information could be seen as upholding the constitution.

  12. grudznick 2020-07-29 12:26

    grudznick reads all of the science, too, and even I am a little confused by the conflicting studies. It seems a mask might help a bit for light breathers, but for heavy breathers they just blow right through it. If you see people without a mask at the bar you can be reasonably sure they are a heavy breather.

  13. Moses6 2020-07-29 12:28

    Yeah try getting into the V.A. with out one,if your registered there. whoops you never served.Like the other three in congress.

  14. o 2020-07-29 13:26

    What exactly is the “cost” of wiring a mask? What exactly is anyone being asked to give up? I had considered this a watershed moment when many of us might just for a moment think of others and take a real action – not for ourselves, but for others.

    I would be willing to bet that the same crowd that refuses to wear masks because “liberty” would also be the first outraged by a topless woman expressing her “freedom.”

  15. David Newquist 2020-07-29 13:45

    When Noem was finishing her degree while in Congress, much alarm was raised about its validity. Many professors asked how it was possible to do academic work in addition to meeting the demands of being a U.S. representative. The questions intensified when Noem’s faculty advisor was quoted by CNN as telling her, “You’re already serving. Why don’t you get credit for it and just write a little paper at the end?” Although I was long retired by then, I was exposed to the concern and anger. It ranged from demands to see her transcript, suggestions that her degree should be revoked, and questions about the integrity and competence of her professors.

    Her statements revive those concerns. A student paper on the subject would require a review of the literature and summary of its findings. Noem’s comments about the scientific literature indicate that she is not acquainted with it and is bluffing. And they certainly devalue the claims to a legitimate college degree, because they suggest that she is not acquainted with those fundamental academic tasks. When Stanford revoked the degree of a business school graduate because he got caught insider trading, the faculty said it had to be done to save the integrity of the degrees th university issued. I wonder how SDSU feels about her comments and her performance.

  16. Nix 2020-07-29 15:08

    On average I’d say 20% wore masks
    but that is absolutely just a swag.
    Passing open bars on the road through
    those towns there were virtually zero
    I only stopped for fuel when I needed it. I didn’t see a soul camping where I camp.

  17. ds 2020-07-29 15:09

    Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Tuesday in an interview with ABC news:

    “We have the most powerful weapon in our hands right now, I mean it’s an enormously powerful weapon. It’s just a simple, flimsy mask,” Redfield said. “This virus can be defeated if people just wear a mask.”

    but of course bobble-heads only listen to Donald the chosen one….

  18. mike from iowa 2020-07-29 15:49

    drumpf maskless/thoughtless body count today 3:47 iowa time…

    \Coronavirus Cases:

    Noem Nothing owns a piece of this hoax.

  19. scott 2020-07-29 16:39

    New name, ” Kristi Hitler” she cant send our teachers to the gas chambers fast enough.

  20. scott 2020-07-29 16:43

    New Name ” Donald Hitler” He cant send everyone in America to the gas chambers fast enough.

  21. Bob Newland 2020-07-29 16:51

    “I’ve read it all. Nobody reads the science like I do.”

  22. Bob Newland 2020-07-29 16:53

    Actually King, soap does kill the virus. Soap doesn’t kill most bacteria, just helps lift it off to be washed down the drain. But most soap kills most viruses.

  23. DaveFN 2020-07-29 17:28

    Soap kills viruses (first of all we may have to agree that a virus is a ‘life form’ or it’s not a matter of ‘killing’ it).

    (1) Yes, soap ‘kills’ viruses:

    (2) No, soap does not ‘kill’ viruses: “Soap and water don’t kill germs; they work by mechanically removing them from your hands.”

    A little learning can be a dangerous thing, and it spreads like wildfire, much faster than the real thing which is often indeterminate to the chagrin of those who are looking for the elusive, ‘absolute’ truth of the matter, be it on masks or viruses. Good luck, Kristi, but rather than trying to understand what is beyond your understanding, err on the side of what experts say is good practice.

  24. cibvet 2020-07-29 17:30

    Wonder if the guv will provide hand-washing stations at roads leading into Sturgis.Should help keep the numbers at the plateau she claims now.

  25. james 2020-07-29 17:49

    Sioux Falls active Covid cases have nearly doubled in the last few weeks. It appears to me that about half of Sioux Falls residents are now wearing masks in businesses that don’t require them.

    But what if everyone were listening to Kristi Noem and Donald Trump? What if everybody refused to wear a mask or socially distance?

    Where would those infection numbers be in South Dakota and the country?

  26. Buckobear 2020-07-29 17:56

    Kristi validates Louie Gohmert (dumbest member of congress). Yes, the DOPE really is in Pierre.

  27. Tim 2020-07-29 17:57

    I want to know what Kristi is going to do with Donald’s demon sperm.

  28. grudznick 2020-07-29 18:03

    Mr. mike, there in Iowa where you are from, I see you are in a Red Zone. That bad. Very bad. Stay home and wear your mask. I worry about you.

  29. Tim Higgins 2020-07-29 18:49

    King, actually soap dies kill the virus. Ingredients in soap dissolve the outer lipid coating that protects it. The contents then spill and the virus is dead

  30. leslie 2020-07-29 18:49

    The New York Times
    In Opinon

    “Hold Donald Trump up to a mirror and that bulging, scowling orange face is today’s Republican Party,” Stuart Stevens writes. “We Lost the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party Long Ago. Only fear will motivate the party— cold fear only defeat can bring.”

  31. Scott 2020-07-29 18:51

    Ask yourself:
    Why these extremist right wing republicans are not trying to control Covid-19?
    Why do the extremist right wing republicans ignore science?
    Why is there no national plan or response to Covid-19?
    Why does Trump keep trying to divide the country?
    Why does Trump keep making himself look like a fool with his tweets?

    Common sense and logic says the response should be just the opposite of what is going on. People should think about this and ask why!

  32. grudznick 2020-07-29 19:31

    Mr. Scott, grudznick chalks Mr. Trump’s actions up to him being insaner than most. The right wing Republicans, those not insaner than most, have probably read the science and know that you cannot control the bugs. That is the science of the covid bugs.

  33. Donald Pay 2020-07-29 21:39

    But, Grudz, you can control the virus by controlling three things. The dispersal distance of Covid can controlled by wearing masks. Masks also attenuate viral load. By social distancing a person decreases the the ability of the virus to reach a new “island.”

    This is just basic ecology. The virus acts as an r-selected species. It depends on unmasked humans closely spaced together to reproduce most effectively. If you reduce the dispersal distance through mask wearing to much less than the distance to an infected person, you control the virus.

  34. o 2020-07-29 22:12

    Is part of this an extension of the prosperity gospel thinking? God will look out for the chosen ones — and clearly we know who the chosen ones are (affluence demonstrates God’s approval). It seems to me that if one is turning his or her back to science, then there has to be something they are putting their faith in.

  35. grudznick 2020-07-29 22:19

    It has often been said, Mr. Pay, that in Union Center you can’t control the virus, the virus controls you. But talk about r-selected and ecology and attenuating viral loads sounds like good science, so you may be onto something.

    Mr. o, god drowned in a bowl of cereal.

  36. Debbo 2020-07-29 22:34

    “We cannot sacrifice the educational, physical, emotional and social well-being of our kids.”

    It appears Kruel Kristi is eager to sacrifice their lives and/or the lives of their families.

    Pootie must be so proud of how his baby boy and the GOP are destroying the USA and so upset that average Americans are frustrating his goals. Thankfully we have all those good Americans, Democrats, youth, BIPOC, mothers, veterans, etc.

  37. sodak34 2020-07-29 23:11

    The next time she or one of her family is admitted for an invasive/surgical procedure just tell the nurses and surgeons that they do not have to wear masks because she doesn’t think it is necessary!!

  38. Fairburn 2020-07-30 00:51

    Tourists on vacation come to SD and don’t wear masks that were required in their home state, just like bikers come to Sturgis and don’t wear the helmets required in their home state. Every year a handful of bikers kill themselves doing this. But brain trauma from a crash is not contagious the way COVID-19 is, so a lot more people are apt to die this year. More businesses need to require masks since SD has no governor.

  39. Jenny 2020-07-30 03:03

    People shouldn’t listen to Noem, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Unless you’re going to wear a dirty grimy mask for days on end without washing it, them maybe it will be unhealthy, but wearing a mask is always best if you want to protect your chances of getting against a deadly airborne virus.
    My town in MN has a mask requirement for all public indoor places and people are doing just fine. Their freedoms aren’t being limited. For God’s sake South Dakota Republicans, grow up a little. Think about others for a change, wearing a mask is protecting other people also, not just yourself.
    Hot water with soap DOES kill viruses.

  40. Jenny 2020-07-30 03:17

    Sadly enough, the only thing that would make Bone Spurs take Covid 19 seriously is if his Princess daughter Ivanka succombed to it. Same with Noem and other Republicans, ONLY if one of their precious family member became deathly ill from it, would it be taken seriously. Republicans are selfish that way.

  41. leslie 2020-07-30 11:01

    Devos came to Kristi’s Reelection party at Mt Rushmore. Days later Trump started up “Back to School/Oblivious to Torpedos” under Devos’ lead. Kristi is cheerleading SD follow this step into madness. Spineless. Brainless.

    Yet Trump shirks Federal responsibility while blaming sitting Democratic Governors and respected Health institutions for his own massive failures concerning the pandemic.

    “New York Times
    @nytimes . 18h
    The Miami-Dade school district, the 4th largest in the U.S. and the largest in Florida, decided that schools would open online only. The decision comes even as Gov. Ron DeSantis, following President Trump’s lead, has pushed for in-person instruction.”

  42. Mark Anderson 2020-07-30 12:25

    Hey, Herman Cain loved her position on masks…what could go wrong?

  43. Tim Higgins 2020-07-30 14:05


    2,216,649 recovered

  44. jerry 2020-07-30 14:31

    2,216,649 pre-existing conditions, thanks to EB5 Short Rounds

  45. kj trailer trash 2020-07-30 14:33

    It brings me great happiness to hear other people taking Noem to task for her silliness and delusions. There are so many “Kristi fans” on FB that it’s very annoying to go there. Even as dumb as she is, it almost seems like she must have some ulterior motive in pushing school reopening so hard. Does her “family farm,” which appears to only exist to get government aid, get some kickback from Betsy DeVos or what? Both are total raging morons.

  46. bearcreekbat 2020-07-30 14:57

    To follow up on Tin Higgins’ and Jerry’s comments:

    For some who recover from COVID-19, symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle pain, confusion, headaches and even hallucinations are among the growing number of issues survivors face following the illness.

    “Individuals recovering from COVID-19 may struggle with a number of respiratory, cardiac and kidney problems,” warns Laurie Jacobs, M.D., chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center. “They also have an increased risk of blood clots, which can potentially lead to a stroke or heart attack.”

    Heart Trouble

    A recent study from the University of Frankford in Germany showed abnormal heart findings in more than 75% of people studied who had recently recovered from COVID-19. A considerable majority of patients in the study were found to have had inflammation in the heart and muscle lining.

    This can be troubling as inflammation in the heart can lead to long-lasting cardiac disease and failure.

    . . .

    Lung Problems

    We know that COVID-19 attacks the lungs, causing inflammation. This may leave survivors with persistent shortness of breath.

    Some people who recover from COVID-19 can experience a dry cough or pain when breathing after the illness. Those who had to be placed on a ventilator may have more severe symptoms.

    . . .

    Brain and Neurological Issues

    Research shows COVID-19 can affect the brain and central nervous system. Some people have reported symptoms like headaches, dizziness, trouble concentrating or recalling things and even hallucinations after recovering from COVID-19. Investigators indicate that symptoms are most common in patients who had severe forms of disease. Strokes are also an ongoing concern among patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Learn more about if COVID-19 can cause a stroke.

    “As inflammation increases in the body, so does the chance of a stroke-causing blood clot, although we do not yet entirely understand why clotting is more common with COVID-19 infection than with other viral infections such as the flu,” explains Dr. Jacobs. “Inflammation is known to be a risk factor damaging the heart. Others recovering from COVID-19 have had heartbeat irregularities as well.”

    Somehow the possibility of “recovering” doesn’t seem to make Covid 19 less worrisome for either our children or the adults they interact with.

  47. jerry 2020-07-30 15:15

    Great link bcb! Yes, the republican mantra is to eliminate the ACA/Obamacare because Black guy don’tcha know. If that were to actually happen, then we would go back to when EB5 Short Rounds started to make his millions on the backs of sick people and pre existing conditions in the health insurance racket.

    If anyone thinks that Covid19 will somehow not be asked in life insurance now and if the ACA is repealed, on health insurance applications, you’re high. This Covid will continue to plague the health systems forever.

  48. jerry 2020-07-30 15:18

    “Can you get life insurance if you have the coronavirus?
    Right now, insurers are asking people to wait until they have recovered from the coronavirus to apply for life insurance. When applying for a policy, you’ll be asked to disclose your medical history, including whether you are currently ill. Some companies are specifically asking applicants if they have been treated for COVID-19. Because the coronavirus can make someone terminally ill so quickly, you likely won’t even be able to purchase a guaranteed issue policy, a type of life insurance that doesn’t require a medical exam or extensive health questions and offers a relatively small death benefit”

    Better check with the local pole barn builder to see if your family can use his big deep post hole auger to plant you on the cheap, because life insurance and burial insurance will not be for you if you “recover” from the Covid.

  49. o 2020-07-30 17:09

    Life insurance, health insurance . . . meh. If Covid complicated crop insurance sales, THEN we would see some action!

  50. jerry 2020-07-30 17:35

    o, but it does complicate crops. Bankers want you to have life insurance in order to loan you the operating money for your place. Ask GNOem what would have happened to them without life insurance on her daddy, not trump.

  51. Debbo 2020-07-30 17:57

    Here’s how a state actually uses science to protect its citizens:

    “The 21-page ‘Safe Learning Plan’ for [Minnesota] schools uses state Department of Health tracking of new virus cases as the first hurdle schools have to jump to be able to reopen. To fully reopen, a county should have fewer than 9 cases of the virus per 10,000 residents over a 14-day period. Schools in counties with higher case counts could attempt to reopen on a more limited basis for full or part-time classes, with younger students getting priority for in-person instruction. Schools in counties with more than 50 cases per 10,000 residents should consider going fully online–but some districts could deviate from the guidance if they can keep students safe.

    “The plan outlines how schools would work with state health and education officials to evaluate how the virus is spreading in local communities, whether school districts are prepared to implement rules about mask wearing, daily cleaning and health screenings, and how teachers and other staff members would be tested if there are cases of the virus in a school building.”

    “In schools that do open, masks would be required — and provided by the state — for both students and teachers. As in the first months of the pandemic, schools that are not fully open would be required to provide free childcare for school-age children of critical workers. Schools will also have to accommodate any students that do not want to return to in-person classes with options for full-time distance learning.”

    “Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, [said] ‘response won’t differ just by district, but by schools within the district, because high school students present more risks for spreading COVID-19 in their communities compared with children in elementary schools.’

    “Education Minnesota, the union representing about 80,000 Minnesota teachers, said its survey showed teachers split over the idea of returning to the classroom, with fewer than 1 in 5 supporting the idea of classes resuming full time.”

    Strib paywall

    The state will furnish all testing supplies and PPE each public school requires.

  52. DaveFN 2020-07-30 18:43

    In response to Judy Woodruff’s comment last night on PBS Newshour when she told Mitch McConnell that Nancy Pelosi was requiring masks in the House, McConnell replied “We’ve had good luck [in the Senate] without a requirement…We’ve had good compliance without a mandate…It appears to not be necessary because everyone is doing it.”

    Fine if true. In South Dakota not everyone is doing it.

  53. Richard Schriever 2020-07-31 04:49

    grudz makes the same logic error around “virus control” as do he and his fellow “conservatives” around the issue of “gun control”. In both cases – the control is actually directed at HUMAN BEHAVIOR and in neither case is it actually directed at the behavior of the “other thing”.

  54. Joni gerbasi 2020-08-10 20:36

    Shame shame on governor noem for allowing sturgis to hold the motorcycle event without manatory masks. She is putting thousands of people at risk. I hope she is riding with them without a mask. She is totally irresponsible .
    How dare her! Just for the money. Many of our big events have been cancelled to save our people, so, why don’t you respect the people & keep them alive. I hope the Native Americans can keep the thousands through.

  55. Bill Haldeman 2020-09-12 13:32

    I too support euthanasia, provided the “patient” understands the consequences of his actions.

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