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Woster Asks for Coronavirus Courtesy and Leadership for All South Dakotans

I don’t think of Kevin Woster as vulnerable. He’s a better and more practiced shot than I am.

But Woster and his wife are both a little older and disease-susceptible than I, so he’s particularly concerned about avoiding coronavirus. So after feeling a bit crowded by unmasked customers and staff at a sandwich shop, he got to thinking about why Governor Kristi Noem doesn’t set a better example of courtesy to the many South Dakotans—some older and grayer, some just unlucky enough to have shaky immune systems—who can’t take the chances she’s willing to take on getting covid-19:

…here’s the Noem approach, clarified in a statement this week: “As I’ve said before if folks want to wear a mask, they should be free to do so. Similarly, those who don’t want to wear a mask shouldn’t be shamed into wearing one. And government should not mandate it. We need to respect each other’s decisions – in South Dakota, we know a little common courtesy can go a long way.”

So, I wonder how the governor feels about the courtesy I was shown in that sandwich shop, where behavior was at best discourteous and could have threatened my health? She might say I didn’t have to go in that shop. And she’s right. I didn’t have to. And I don’t very often.

But can I never stop for a quick sandwich without a needlessly elevated risk to my health? Noem’s message to those of us in higher-risk groups seems to be: “Stay home. Take care of yourself. Let the rest of us get on with it.”

I’d kind of like to get on with it myself and lead some kind of a life outside of isolation. But I can’t do that without risk unless I get some help. In businesses. And in the governor’s office.

Again, I’m not calling for mandates. I’m calling for responsible leadership.

Don’t just say “be courteous,” governor. Show it. Model it. Yourself [Kevin Woster, “You Do Care About Us Governor? Don’t You?” SDPB: On the Other Hand, 2020.10.26].

South Dakota’s budget-makers regularly brag about how “taking care of people” is a primary fiscal priority. But our chief budget-maker isn’t doing much to show (as Kevin and all good educators say, not tell, but show) South Dakotans the non-fiscal practical steps we need to take to take care of people who’s needs will not be met by our blind pursuit of profits and self-interest.

Woster writes long and writes well. Do him the courtesy of reading his full blog post on SDPB. Then do him the favor of wearing your mask at the sandwich shop, the grocery store, and wherever else you might be indoors with people who need your help in staying healthy.


  1. Jenny 2020-10-29

    At least he didn’t bring up his Catholicism this time.

  2. Eve Fisher 2020-10-29

    95 days to go from 0-100 deaths in SD (April 3 to July 9)
    72 days to go from 100-200 deaths in SD (July 9-Sept. 18)
    27 days to go from 200-300 deaths in SD (Sept. 18-Oct. 15)
    14 days to go from 300-400 deaths in SD (Oct. 15-Oct. 29)

    Heck of a job, Kristi.

  3. Chris S. 2020-10-29

    Since March my family has been trying to be courteous, responsible, and neighborly, as Mr. Woster makes a case for in his post. Unfortunately, that’s in conflict with conservative Republican values modeled by Noem and MAGA cultists nationwide: “I got mine, screw you.”

    When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. They’ve decided to go full MAGA (aka “Woodstock for A**holes”), so politely asking them to be courteous is kind of sad. But maybe some of them who aren’t too far gone will snap out of it. Here’s hoping.

  4. mike from iowa 2020-10-29

    Moar drumpf body count bodies…

    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    drumpf and Noem Nothing both ignore but the dang pandemic stays around for more.

  5. Buckobear 2020-10-29

    Remember, the republicrat definition of courtesy and compromise is “Do what I want…“
    There’s also a good deal of that “I’m right, you’re wrong …. and besides, you’re going to hell” point of view.

  6. David Newquist 2020-10-29

    The state has full authority to take decisive, effective action to deal with pandemics:

    34-22-9. State-wide system for prevention, control, and treatment of communicable disease–Promulgation of rules.
    The department shall establish and direct the operations of a state-wide system for communicable disease prevention, control, and treatment. The department may promulgate rules, pursuant to chapter 1-26, to:
    (1) Conduct communicable disease surveillance which includes detection, assessment, and analysis;
    (2) Prescribe criteria for communicable disease case definitions;
    (3) Prescribe procedures for communicable disease case and contact notification, referral, and management;
    (4) Prescribe methods and procedures for the prevention and control of communicable disease;
    (5) Prescribe methods and procedures for the control of communicable disease patients and carriers, including the monitoring, quarantine, and isolation of any patient or carrier;
    (6) Prescribe medical and posttreatment supervision measures for communicable disease patients and carriers;
    (7) Prescribe methods and procedures for the prevention and control of occupationally-related communicable diseases; and
    (8) Prescribe procedures for infection prevention measures for communicable disease control and prevention.

    Source: SL 1963, ch 380, § 5 (1); SL 1992, ch 246; SL 2015, ch 181, § 7.

  7. grudznick 2020-10-29

    Who are these Promulgators, Mr. Newquist, and have they promulgated sufficient rules we should be following? Are there penalties for defying the Promulgators?

  8. Eve Fisher 2020-10-29

    Dear Mr. Grudznick:
    “The Promulgators” is South Dakota Department of Health:

    34-22-5. Exposure of self or others to communicable disease as misdemeanor.

    Each person who intentionally exposes himself or herself or another person infected with any communicable disease in any public place, except in the person’s necessary removal from a public place in a manner not dangerous to the public health, is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

    34-22-18.1. [Effective until July 1, 2021] Action for injunction to enforce department directive or order–Confidential information.

    If the department has determined by medical or epidemiological information that a person is infected with, or is reasonably suspected of having active tuberculosis, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, any middle east respiratory syndrome (MERS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), smallpox, or viral hemorrhagic fevers, or any disease or condition which is the subject of a declared public health emergency pursuant to § 34-22-42, and that person presents a health threat to others, the department may commence an action in circuit court, pursuant to chapters 15-6 and 21-8, for injunctive relief as necessary to enforce any applicable department directive or order. The court shall treat individually identifying information including the gender, age, ethnicity, race, national origin, location, or identity of any person subject to the proceedings as strictly confidential information. If necessary, identifying numbers or initials may be used to protect the individually identifying information of the person.

    34-22-42. Secretary may declare public health emergency–Contents of order.

    The secretary of health, with the consent of the Governor, may declare a public health emergency as defined by § 34-22-41. In declaring a public health emergency, the secretary shall issue an order that specifies:

    (1) The nature of the public health emergency;

    (2) The geographic area subject to the declaration;

    (3) The conditions that have brought about the public health emergency; and

    (4) The expected duration of the state of public health emergency, if less than thirty days.

    Finally, feel free to read the statutes for yourself. The DOH has a lot of power.

  9. grudznick 2020-10-29

    Good information, Ms. Fisher. Thank you. I shall read more.

  10. Chris S. 2020-10-29

    Agreed, Cory and Gretchen. Some of us are trying to help row the lifeboat to shore, while Noem and the Trumpies are chopping holes in the hull to Own The Libs.

  11. Caleb 2020-10-29

    Recently someone in my life started saying a particular comedic statement at key moments. That statement has come to my mind after reading this post and comments:

    “Guns don’t kill people, Republican ideals kill people.”

  12. Caroline 2020-10-29

    So…… maybe if people decide to smoke in restaurants and bars, it isn’t that big of a deal?? If you don’t like smoke, don’t sit here. If smoke bothers you wear a mask?? Silly, I know, but still………?

  13. Scott 2020-10-29

    How can people be so against wearing a mask? It just is so inconsiderate.

    It is not just the older people or people with health issues that are a concern.

    Consider all those workers you interact with and we all need to keep us supplied with food, meds, clothes, etc. Consider all these critical workers out that that keep the utilities going, plow snow, or protect us and our property. Consider that person you just interacted with that is barely making it and a few days without pay means food, heat etc for their family is at risk.

    For people who call themselves Christians, which so many of us do in SD, I just can not figure out my fellow SD citizens.

  14. Jake 2020-10-29

    Noem, Trump and others like them (usually Republican bent) want the trappings and power of government to be in their hands, but they have a deep-seated aversion to making any moves that require them to be held to any actions (or inactions) they might take! Cowardice in office is paramount to the GOP today.

  15. Debbo 2020-10-29

    Caleb, that’s perfect.

    The answer to the “Why won’t more people be considerate and courteous” may well be right here.

    “How does one expect to get through to people when their rationale for voting for someone is that they get to shove the proverbial middle finger at polite society? That is Charlie Sykes at the Bulwark is postulating in his recent piece. He is actually quoting someone else here but I think most people fully understand the idea.

    “Simply put, they don’t care about you, them, or even themselves. They could all suffer and could buckle under his lies. It doesn’t matter. In the academic world we have a different word for this: nihilism.”

    They’ll die and watch their loved ones die to “own the libs.” That is absolute insanity. I’m with the people who are saying give up on them and move on, do what we need to and hope they finally return to sanity.

  16. cj 2020-10-29

    “…..never in the name of helping one’s neighbors has so little been asked of so many…..”

  17. Clyde 2020-10-30

    When I was in Japan in the late 60’s early 70’s,huge numbers of the Japanese people wore masks. I think a rather innocent by C 19 standards flu may have been going on but mainly the Japanese thought it a courtesy to wear a mask. That is what is needed…..people that are actually courteous.

    We make a huge deal out of privacy concerning this disease while everyone is carrying a cell phone that is telling the NSA where they are at any time all the time. My god it would be nice to see the public get their heads out….

  18. John Dale 2020-10-31

    When you see someone out there without a mask, you’re seeing a warrior.

    Yes, by all means let’s examine the science on immunity. ”. . .17 years after the 2003 [SARS] outbreak, [recovered patients] still possess long-lasting memory T cells . . ., which displayed robust cross-reactivity to” COVID.

    Also, scientists found a specific T cell response to COVID “in individuals with no history of SARS, COVID-19 or contact with SARS/COVID-19 patients” . . .likely explained by previous infection with coronavirus colds.” —

    Herd immunity is real. The strong get it, defeat it, build a wall for the rest.

  19. cibvet 2020-10-31

    If a person actually believes in “herd immunity”, there are plenty of diseases around where a person could prove their hypothesis using them self as an example and then come back and show the rest of us how it works.

  20. bearcreekbat 2020-10-31

    Herd immunity – a claim that “the strong get it, defeat it” reminds me of Sarah Palin’s “death panels” by using economic considerations to justify letting grandpa and grandma get COVID 19 and die.

    More evidence of just how far Trumpist conservatives have moved away from their former medicine show hype that they actually wanted public policies that protected grandma’s life.

  21. mike from iowa 2020-10-31

    bcb, if I can be of help, I would gladly put in many good words on your behalf to whomever, so you are allowed to comment more at DFP.

    Your voice is well respected and much missed so if there is someone I can possibly persuade to free up your internet, I be at your service. I can be persuasive….now and then. mfi :)

    sorta kinda tic

  22. bearcreekbat 2020-10-31

    Mfi, Thanks for your kind words and encouragement.

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