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Guest Column: Last Year Noem Took Epidemics Seriously

Travis Kriens of Mitchell discusses the disparity in Governor Kristi Noem’s responses to two major public health crises—coronavirus and meth addiction:

The slogan that could have been: "Covid-19: We're On It."
I feel like this slogan would have gone over better….

It was last November that South Dakota launched the “Meth, We’re On It” campaign.

Gov. Noem said, “What it’s talking about is that each one of us, no matter who we are, that we’re on the case of meth. That we’re protecting our family, we’re protecting our friends, we’re protecting our communities from this epidemic that we see.”

13 people in the state died from meth overdoses in 2018. There were 73 overdose deaths overall in S.D. in 2017, according to the CDC. Drug deaths were not in the state’s top 10 leading causes of death that year. 2018-19 overdose deaths were not available.

In 2018, the state with the lowest age-adjusted drug overdose death rates was South Dakota (6.9).

In 2016, the most recent year that the Department of Social Services has data for, there were 2,687 arrests for meth possession in the state.

So today, the latest COVID numbers are released and another terrible day for S.D. Latest numbers are 165 COVID deaths, 2,182 active cases and 12,517 total cases. All time highs, which will all be surpassed against tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

Drug overdose deaths in S.D.
2017: 73
2016: 69
2015: 65
2014: 63

My question is why was so much time, effort and money (nearly $2 million at least) put into this “Meth, We’re On It” campaign compared to the very hands off approach by the same Governor when it comes to COVID? 13 people in the state died from meth overdoses in 2018. 165 people have died in S.D. in the last five months from COVID.

Where is the leadership in this state? Why was meth deemed a serious problem, but COVID isn’t? On its current pace, COVID would be the 7th leading cause of death in the state.

I would love if the Governor instead would say, “Each one of us, no matter who we are, we’re on the case of COVID. That we’re protecting our family, we’re protecting our friends, we’re protecting our communities from this epidemic that we see.”

Instead, she says she will push for schools to stay open this fall, but is against any requirements for children to wear masks in classrooms.

She downplays scientific findings that show masks could slow the spread of the disease. She allows 250,000 people to gather in Sturgis and SURPRISE, South Dakota is now at its peak and growing every single day.

Noem said, “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.”

Why were 13 meth related deaths in 2018 and 2,687 arrests for meth possession in 2016 deemed an “epidemic,” but 165 COVID deaths, 2,182 active cases and 12,517 total cases in five months deemed “minimal” by the same person? [links added; Travis Kriens, “Where is the leadership in S.D.? Why was meth a serious problem, but not COVID?” Twitter/TwitLonger, 2020.08.28]

Noem’s anti-meth logo has quietly morphed into “Anyone. Everyone.” It’s too bad she can’t adopt similar language with similar fervor to fight the even greater epidemic of coroanvirus: Anyone can get it, and everyone must fight it. But in Noem’s political career calculations, fighting drugs is cool, while fighting a virus is not.


  1. Nix 2020-08-31 07:56

    How dare you hit us with facts and accuracy when the Dope Queen of Delusion clearly has the Ghost of Bill
    Janklow guiding her….
    Sometimes you need to ask others if you stink because after a while the stench smells normal.
    And Yes Kristi, you stink.

  2. Bob Newland 2020-08-31 11:29

    I printed out a screen shot of this Dakota Free Press blog post and mailed it to Kristi today.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-08-31 11:54

    Nix, Janklow was a mean SOB, and he set a lot of wrong priorities, but was he as openly deceitful as Kristi?

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-08-31 11:54

    Now, Bob, be careful: if you go e-mailing things like that to Kristi, she’ll say that attacks like that are why she needs an even higher fence around her mansion.

  5. jerry 2020-08-31 12:09

    Anyone remember the Atlas blizzard and how devastating that was? Well look out gang, we have an even more dangerous one coming. The crap storm Scott Atlas.

    “Scott Atlas, the radiologist recruited to the admin after downplaying the pandemic on Fox News has been pushing for herd immunity. To achieve this without a vaccine, about 250 million Americans would contract the virus and 1.5-2 million would die.” Yikes, Some hoax, no? That’s a whole lot of burying people.

  6. cibvet 2020-08-31 12:23

    Jerry– maybe its trump way of propping up the funeral industry.

  7. Bob Newland 2020-08-31 12:25

    I sent it by snail mail.

  8. jerry 2020-08-31 14:57

    Great link leslie, good music and article!

  9. jerry 2020-08-31 16:47

    cibvet, maybe the karma general in the sky is showing civilian Americans how it feels to lose a couple hundred thousand collateral damage casualty’s like the places you and I served in. We killed at least a million civilians in Korea, at least a million in Vietnam and who knows how many in our other conflicts. And, on top of it all, in all those places, we left toxic waste like Agent Orange and depleted uranium that are both like covid, they just keep giving, because like covid, there ain’t no herd immunity to any of it.

    So yeah, the grave diggers are having a banner year and will continue to do so. They just hope they get paid. Is it too soon to ask for subsidies? Booyah!

  10. Nix 2020-08-31 17:18

    Was he more openly deceitful than
    Kristi? You or I will never know the answer to that question. All I know is that he is one of the more despicable
    human beings that I have ever heard of.

  11. DaveFN 2020-08-31 19:10

    “My question is why was so much time, effort and money (nearly $2 million at least) put into this “Meth, We’re On It” campaign compared to the very hands off approach by the same Governor when it comes to COVID?”

    Excellent question. Meth has always posed a threat to law enforcement and the criminal justice system, and for a long time; ephedrine and red phosphorus sales have been restricted for that reason. Law enforcement and the criminal justice system are part of her inner circle if not first line of self-defense (witness her fence around the mansion) as well as her political base so of course she caters to them. The threat of meth to society at large seems secondary just as is the threat of COVID to society.

    There does appear to be a kind of naive fatalism involved, and I’ve heard the same expressed by various mayors in the state (it’s bound to arrive, etc with total silence when it comes to what to do about it, how to forestall or blunt it, etc.). Fatalism tends to be very non-committal. Whether this fatalism has its roots in her religion, the primary survival concerns of her background agrarian life, lack of education which would otherwise afford more informed options for a proactive COVID response, or simply dulled political allegiances and sensibility—if we better knew, maybe we could better address it.

  12. Scott 2020-08-31 21:02

    Covid-19 is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. Look at the the time and money spent to control drugs or prevent auto accidents. Think about how much money and effort is put into DWI enforcement is cities and towns across the state of SD.

    Now when it comes to Covid-19, Noem wants you to just go about your life and asks you to stay home if you have it.

    I understand Noem not imposing a mask law, due to the issues of enforcement, But how about caring about the people and telling your citizen to wear masks? Use you brain Noem, and forget what the Donald has brain washed you into think. Noem, you are South Dakotas governor, NOT Donald Trumps mouthpiece.

  13. grudznick 2020-08-31 21:13

    grudznick promotes squads of goons going around enforcing staying at home for those who have been marked with the Scarlet-C

  14. leslie 2020-08-31 22:25

    This must be what u mean by red-c:

    Lise Horton Is An Angry & Nasty Suburban Woman
    NY Times reporter Michael Schmidt’s dropping his new book which includes the revelation that Pence was “on standby” during Trump’s sudden emergency visit to Walter Reade for a ‘cerebral event’. In other words, a stroke. And I’m just 1 of many folks saying he’s been having them.

  15. DaveFN 2020-08-31 22:39

    Let’s get this notion out of our heads: There is no such thing as natural herd immunity for COVID. COVID, just like the common cold, can re-infect people over and over again while being, as we have seen, more deadly. There is no gradual and progressive build-up of immunity among and within a population over time to COVID, wishful thinking to the contrary. Sweden and Great Britain initially were under the sway of this mistaken notion but woke up. Wake up, America.

    If such a notion is what is at the origin of Gnome’s fatalism, some “let nature take it’s course” distorted mentality, Gnome too needs wake up.

  16. JW 2020-09-06 13:13

    There is absolutely no fiscal accountability in any of this. None, zero, nada……………..She spends 1.5 million+ on a nest predator bounty farce that has yet to demonstrate any tangible benefit what so ever. She spends at least that much or more on Meth We’re On it and can not show any cost to benefit or program accomplishment what so ever. (Numbers Cory lists are statistically consistent with no change in conditions) She spends the same amount of money on Fireworks and a bulbous, political dog and pony show at Mt. Rushmore suggesting that such pomp and ritualistic dogma are good for Tourism yet there are no figures or proof that such expenditures did one thing in the long term. She spends $800,000+on a promotional add in the middle of the RNC, nearing the end of the Tourism season, and on the heels of the biggest covid 19 community spread event (Sturgis Rally) in the nation and has no intention or ability to show the public that all her ceremonial spending of the public’s money has produced meaningful and tangible benefits to the state or it’s people…… How much money has she spent on Covid 19 to deliver relief from the pestilence and promise for diminished mortality and suffering to say nothing of the enormous medical burden on this state’s medical community and financial burden on those victims. Leadership??????????????? Who ties her shoes?

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