Press "Enter" to skip to content

State Not Controlling Coronavirus Outbreak; Brookings Mask Mandate Good for Business

NPR gets some useful facts about the coroanvirus pandemic from South Dakotans. None come from Governor Kristi Noem.

After putting Noem’s Trumpist pandemic denial on record, NPR turns to South Dakota State University professor and epidemiologist Bonny Specker for some straight talk about the increasing risk we face from coronavirus:

“We’re seeing a much higher number of cases in the 60-plus age group” she says. “The hospitalizations are going to increase, so I don’t think it’s under control at all.”

Most concerning for South Dakota is the number of tests coming back positive, which has now climbed to around 25% – an indication that the state is not testing nearly enough people.

In North Dakota, the positivity rate is only about 7%.

Specker says there continues to be too much of a disconnect between the urgency of the situation and the public view of how the pandemic is affecting her state.

“I can get pretty discouraged about this whole thing,” she said. “I have to keep thinking that if we educate people they’ll listen to the science and not the politics and misinformation” [Will Stone, “As Covid-19 Cases Rise, Some Governors Resist Lockdowns, Mask Mandates,” NPR: Morning Edition, 2020.10.01].

Governor Noem has discouraged mask use and claimed that taking precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus is equivalent to “choking the life” out of businesses and families. One Brookings businessman laboring under his city’s first-in-the-state mask mandate says that requiring masks citywide has helped his business:

The day after the city passed the mandate, Michael Johnson, a chef and general manager of the Pheasant Restaurant and Lounge in Brookings, says his phone started ringing non-stop.

With people saying ‘like, oh my gosh I feel safe to come out now. I was a little leery before,'” he says. “We started seeing faces of people we hadn’t seen.”

Johnson believes the mask mandate has made a big difference. His restaurant is busier because people are more comfortable being in public and know there are rules in places to help protect them from the virus [Stone, 2020.10.01].

We won’t save the economy from a pandemic recession by spending more government money on tourism ads and encouraging people to do things that increase the spread of infection. As Johnson is seeing in Brookings, when you take serious action to control pandemic spread, you make people feel safer about going out and doing business.

p.s.: Of the 15 most populous counties in South Dakota, Brookings County has the second-lowest rate of active cases per 10,000 population.

County Population
(est. 2019)
Active cases (Benchmark, 2020.10.04) active cases/10K Rank
Minnehaha 192,876 756 39.2 11
Pennington 111,729 446 39.9 10
Lincoln 58,807 277 47.1 7
Brown 39,316 211 53.7 4
Brookings 35,232 104 29.5 14
Meade 28,294 116 41.0 9
Codington 28,015 183 65.3 3
Lawrence 25,741 96 37.3 12
Yankton 22,869 101 44.2 8
Davison 19,790 154 77.8 2
Beadle 18,883 95 50.3 6
Hughes 17,650 145 82.2 1
Union 15,619 79 50.6 5
Clay 14,041 42 29.9 13
Lake 13,057 29 22.2 15


  1. ds 2020-10-04

    When you have public officials spreading horse pucky like this: “I think we’re going to have to have herd immunity or a vaccine”, no wonder we have a problem. DO we not practice dog, cat, cattle, horse, and human immunizations and instead rely on “herd immunity”?

  2. jerry 2020-10-04

    Now, there can be no denying from the lizard brained GNOem and her followers on the reality of the trump virus. Their leader is sicker than sick, 103F is a pretty good indicator that you’re a sick puppy. So, ya got’s to keep up the appearance of all is well to keep the other lizard brains drinking the kool-aid while getting sick to tax our weak healthcare system in the state.

    “The White House released follow-up statements saying Conley misspoke, but they did little to quell the chaos. The White House’s shifting chronology and lack of transparency are being driven, in part, by Trump’s desire to conceal the seriousness of his illness from the public. Three sources said Trump argued with his doctors on Friday after they told him he needed to be moved to Walter Reed. “He didn’t want to go to the hospital a month before the election,” a Republican close to Trump told me. Two sources said doctors gave Trump an ultimatum: he could go to the hospital while he could still walk, or doctors would be forced to take him in a wheelchair or on a stretcher at a later point if his health deteriorated. “They told him, ‘You can go now or we’re taking you later and it’s non negotiable,’” a second source close to the White House said. Trump waited to leave for the hospital until the stock market closed on Friday, a source said.”

    Waited until the stock market closed, LMAO!! All about the corrupted money. GNOem will go on the road now and forget about South Dakota as she works the small crowds of fellow lizard brains to oblivion (not the former town between Hill City and Keystone either).

  3. mike from iowa 2020-10-04

    Only three states show declining rates of new cases. Wisconsin gained 10k new cases in 5 days. If drumpf’s lungs aren’t totally compromised he will huff and puff and blow covid away, or, like Chief Brody in Jaws, the book, offer to hold Superman’s pee pee tail while he pees the shark away.

    drumpf might actually be competent holding Superman’s Johnson.
    Just may be.

  4. sx123 2020-10-04

    Where is Noem anyhow?

  5. Scott 2020-10-04

    Noem keeps talking about personal freedom. How free are people of older age or people who have health issues?

    What Noem has done is created a group of people who are living in fear of getting sick and dyeing. Noem has also created a group of people who are afraid to visit their older parents because they could make them sick.

    It is all one sided for Noem.

  6. David Newquist 2020-10-04

    Kristi Noem has always been a paragon of vacuity. Her debates with Herseth Sandlin were a matter of ignorance versus information. A majority of South Dakotans voted for ignorance. Herseth Sandlin went on to become a university president. Noem became governor who hardly ever pays attention to what is going on within the state. She dwells in oblivion. And oblivion is the choice of the South Dakota majority. Which is why the majority of our children leave the state as soon as they have a diploma.

  7. Mike Livingston 2020-10-04

    Governess Noemask has put South Dakota on the covid 19 map were in the top two, due to her personal freedom she is able to celebrate her achievement elsewhere. When karma catches up to her she may be able to import a new strain of virus. Oh goody you go lil queenie.

  8. mike from iowa 2020-10-04

    Wingnut sinator numero 4-0, Rand Paul has covid. We still need nearly all Dem Senators to stay disease free to block the confirmation before the election.

  9. bearcreekbat 2020-10-04

    Unfortunately McConnell claims that these sick Republicans will still be able to participate in the confirmation hearings remotely by video, assuming they maintain their previous semiconscious mental abilities.

    So great was the threat posed by COVID-19 that McConnell called off floor proceedings but not Barrett’s hearings, slated to begin Oct. 12. The Kentucky Republican, who is battling to save the GOP majority and running for reelection himself, was not about to give them up.

    “The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair and historically supported confirmation process,” McConnell wrote Saturday. Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who like McConnell is running for reelection, added that senators can attend the hearings remotely.

    “Certainly,” McConnell said, “all Republican members of the committee will participate in these important hearings.”

  10. mike from iowa 2020-10-04

    Crystal clear keeping whitey wingnuts in power takes precedence over hundreds of thousands potential covid deaths and even the failing economy.

  11. leslie 2020-10-04

    How is it possible in 2020 for a nepotistic Republican Senate Leader to lie like this? Democratic President Clinton was impeached over publicly lying about his infidelity.

    Thune’s mentor espoused a “thorough, fair and historically supported confirmation process,” McConnell wrote Saturday.


    He refused this to Democratic President Obama’s appointee Federal Judge Merrick Garland, an ethical centrist! After Justice Scalia died on a Texas hunting trip eight months before the 2016 election!!

    Until this political errand is rectified, things like Trump’s disastrous term will keep happening. The Republican party is on its death bed. They have committed self-suicide. Good riddance. January 20, 2021 we begin a massive repair of this constitutional ship of state, barnacle-free.

    Corruption ends here Thune, Rounds, Johnson and Noem. Feel the burn of accountability.

  12. Mike Livingston 2020-10-04

    Unless I am mistaken they can participate in the hearings remotely but the voting requires their presence and given the state of covid 19 activity who knows how many will be available.

  13. bearcreekbat 2020-10-04

    leslie, you may be right that “The Republican party is on its death bed.” Perhaps the Republicans will parrot the Whigs of the 1850’s. As with today’s Republicans there were a substantial number, likely a majority, of nativist xenophobe Whigs. But there were also many Whigs that rejected a nativist outlook, some based on humanitarian considerations (these Whigs were also strong abolitionists) or economic considerations (these Whigs wanted an effective federal government). These Whigs became the Republicans while the nativist Whigs became the American Party (a/k/a the “Know-Nothing party”).

    Today Trump and his followers seem even crazier and more objectionable than the 1850’s Know-Nothings. But there are also many Republicans, such as members of the Lincoln Project, who can no longer stomach the nativist hatred, stupidity and other antics while retaining some of the better values shared by earlier Republicans, including a respect for truth, honesty and carefully thought out policy based upon actual facts rather than the Trumpist reject experts and intellectuals, shoot from the hip, and just blow it all up attitude. Hopefully the Trumpists wing will become the next Know-Nothing party and die out just as quickly as the 1850’s American Party, which was pretty much dead by 1860.

  14. mike from iowa 2020-10-04

    McCTurtlefartface isn’t lying, Leslie, he is just offering up his alternative version of truth. It doesn’t line up with reality, you say? That is what is so unique among wingnuts. Their ideas of facts or truth don’t have to match your reality, only theirs and not even most of the time.

  15. jerry 2020-10-04

    1 in 200 South Dakotan’s are infected with the trump virus thanks to GNOem’s failed leadership. We continue to spike upwards with both infections and death. 25,000 would be the entire population of Haakon, Stanley and Hughes county’s.

    “The state reported 432 new cases on 1,756 tests Sunday for a positivity rate of 24.6%. That brings the total number of infections to 24,418 with 4,248 of those still active. Pennington County reported 39 cases on 249 tests for a 16% positivity rate. The number of active cases rose to tie the highest level at 449.

    In the state, about one in every 200 people have an active COVID-19 infection. No new deaths were reported Sunday, but hospitalizations rose to 232 – up 17 from Saturday.”
    Rapid City Journal 10.4.20

  16. Robin Friday 2020-10-04

    So well said, Dr. Newquist, and so appropriately crushing to our gadabout governor.

  17. jerry 2020-10-04

    republican bumper sticker “I really don’t care, do U?” oh that Melania, what a prophet. So true then and so true now.

  18. jerry 2020-10-04

    “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” New super spreader event at Walter Reed for the “suckers and losers”

    Dr. James P. Phillips, MD
    That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play.

  19. james 2020-10-04

    Kristi Noem acts like a contestant on the Price Is Right. She thinks she wins if she gets close to hospital capacity… without going over.

  20. Francis Schaffer 2020-10-04

    I am attempting to correlate the increase in SD Covid cases with the modification of Mass Dispensation by the bishop of Sioux Falls. It seems the requirement to attend Sunday Mass was reinstated on August 17, 2020 for the majority of Diocese of Sioux Falls catholics. So the increase in cases 2 weeks later could be explained by the Sturgis Rally and Sunday Mass requirements.

  21. Donald Porter 2020-10-04

    Downtown Sioux Falls October 3 Minerva’s Restaurant: there were almost no masks on inside (except servers); very busy; full house (of course food is superb); very few masks going in or out; no distancing; astounding potential indoor spread; one clue as to why SD the hot spot

  22. Debbo 2020-10-04

    First, we can’t really be sure what the accurate numbers are in any GOP led state, though we can pretty much guarantee that they’re lying about just how bad C-19 really is in their state.

    Second, the actual committee votes against or for the SCOTUS nominee are required to be in person. I believe the same is true for the Senate vote. Moscow Mitch will certainly try to weasel around that rule.

    Last, Wapo got experts to dissect Covid Cluster’s videos purporting to show how perfectly fine he is. Those videos are heavily edited, not one continuous shot, as they would like us to believe. It’s edited using the same program deep fakes are made with, but if you watch carefully, you can see an instance when his shoulders begin to rise for a cough. You’ll also note there are small movements of the background.

    Signs of editing. That all means it took several tries to get enough good footage to make him look healthy. He’s sicker than they’re telling us. The good news? Probably no more “debates”! 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏

  23. leslie 2020-10-04

    jerry-thx for the reminder. My family used to spend hot summer nights in an A Frame along the railroad and creek there and whether i knew then it was called oblivion, I don’t remember. Days, we plunked in the water and placed pennies on the tracks without another care in the world. Summers in the Paha Sapa really could not be nicer—when bikers and mass fireworks in the National Forest are not heavily promoted. Indians deserve their property returned and loss of all that entails.

    Accountability. Reparations. Return at least of federal land.

  24. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-10-05

    I would like to think Minerva’s is a more sensible venue than that.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-10-05

    Francis, it would be interesting to isolate the Catholic population in the numbers and see if their infection rate has increased in correlation with that timeframe… but even if we could get Catholic-specific data, we’d have a really hard time distinguishing the effect of the Bishop’s edict with the effect of returning to school, restarting HS sports events, and the other dumb behavior going on.

  26. jerry 2020-10-05

    History has shown in Italy, Germany and in Spain, the Catholic Church supported the regimes there during fascist dictatorships, Hitler was raised Catholic. The Bishop’s lack of science and support for the state, then seems to fall in line with the past.

  27. Eve Fisher 2020-10-05

    New York City is closing some areas of NYC because of increased positivity rates: “Those areas all have had positivity rates in recent days of more than 3 percent — and some as high as 8 percent — in contrast to the city’s overall rate of about 1.5 percent.”
    Folks, per SD’s DOH, South Dakota’s positivity rate over the last 14 days is 12.3%. And we’re doing NOTHING to stop it.

Comments are closed.