Back in spring, Governor Kristi Noem said we could get “back to normal”—i.e., reopen the schools—if our coronavirus numbers showed a “downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period in areas with sustained community spread.”
Every South Dakota county with a state university or vo-tech currently has moderate to substantial community spread of coronavirus. We are one of eleven U.S. states/territories showing an increase in our 14-day average of newly reported cases. Our weekly average for newly reported cases per day as of yesterday was 143, a 54% increase from two weeks ago and higher than the worst surges in April and May.
In the run-up to Sturgis and back-to-school, Governor Noem bragged that South Dakota had “been back to normal for almost three months…” when our average daily case count remained steady in the sixties. Now with that daily count doubling, Noem’s own spring guidance says we should be pulling back from fantasies of normal and reducing the clusters of people at schools. But under her cloak of selective science and weasel words, Noem is telling us that “we can’t stop the virus from spreading” in a cynical attempt to insulate herself from criticism for the unhealthy results of her current reckless statements and policy inaction.
Science said back in March that our coronavirus quarantine would not be one and done. Science told us back in March that if we wanted to save two million lives in the U.S., we had to plan for “adaptive triggering,” a rolling series of social distancing and school closures. Noem’s own “Back-to-Normal” plan tells us it’s time for the next installment of distancing and home-learning.