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Nurse Tobin vs. Doctor Curd on Mask Mandate: SB 125 Barely Survives Senate Committee

Nurse Erin Tobin beat anti-vaxxer Republican House Majority Leader Lee Qualm in last year’s District 21 Senate GOP primary. She vowed last November to wear a mask in the Legislature to prevent the spread of coronavirus and set a good example.

But Senator Tobin set aside her medical duty and training yesterday to put party sloganeering first and vote against Senate Bill 125, Senator Reynold Nesiba’s reasonable proposal that South Dakota require most people to mask up in indoor retail businesses and government facilities where folks can’t stay six feet apart. SB 125 has no penalties. It exempts kids four and under, folks eating and drinking, folks with health issues that make wearing a mask unreasonable, people swimming or engaged in team sports (what, not individual exercise?), public safety workers whose masks would hinder their job performance, and people who shack up or (or!) go to the store in a group of ten or fewer as long as they keep away from everyone else.

I could read into that list of exceptions and excuse for almost anyone to ignore SB 125’s mask requirement. But Senator Tobin voted no, muttering something about demands and compliance and good people:

“I think there’s three levels of compliance: demand, ask, and convince. And I don’t know if demand is the best way to approach compliance,” Tobin said.

…Tobin noted that “we have good people” in the state who should not be criticized for not wanting to wear a mask, and motioned to move the bill to the 41st day.

“I want to reiterate that the mask decision does not make a person a bad person. But it is a decision, and I will stand by my people that they are good people, and that’s why I voted this way,” Tobin said [Abby Wargo, “S.D. Senate Committee Sends Indoor Mask Mandate to Floor Vote,” Pierre Capital Journal, 2021.02.03].

It’s funny hearing South Dakota Republicans get all hypersensitive about judging people who don’t behave according to expectations.

Requiring masks and other sensible behavior during a pandemic isn’t about passing moral judgment on selfish idiots who don’t listen to science (although, you know…). It’s about adopting effective (and cheap!) public health practices that will save lives and reduce the burdens on our hospitals, schools, and economy. I’m not worried about who’s bad people and who’s good people, but we should all keenly worried about discerning bad decisions from good decisions. The fact that something is a decision does not make it a wise or acceptable decision. It’s o.k. to tell people, “Hey, that’s a bad decision” and even to require better decisions when bad decisions have major impacts on other people.

Senator Red Dawn Foster captured the grave consequences of Tobin’s confused priorities well:

“We could’ve been good neighbors and willingly wore masks,” said Foster. “But because it’s been so tainted, it’s now an issue of freedom … and a lot of people in my community have died” [Christopher Vondracek, “In Political Reversal, Longshot Mask Mandate in South Dakota Heads to the Full Senate,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2021.02.03].

Without judging any individual, Sister Lynn Marie Welbig of the Presentation Sisters said government’s failure to act has led to death:

During public testimony, Sister Lynn Marie Welbig, of the Presentation Sisters in Aberdeen, said the need for a mask mandate was evidenced by the effects of the state’s hands-off response to the virus.

“Some of the previous speakers have pointed out how well that’s working for us in South Dakota,” Welbig said. “Nearly 1,800 of our neighbors are dead. That’s comparable to wiping out the population of many towns in South Dakota” [Vondracek, 2021.02.03].

Everybody Senator Tobin heard testify on Senate Bill 125 yesterday before Senate Health and Human Services—Avera Health, the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, the State Medical Association, Sanford Health, the South Dakota Nurses Association, the Community Healthcare Associate of the Dakotas, the South Dakota Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Presentation Sisters—all said a mask mandate is a good idea. Representative disregarded that proponent testimony and voted against this very weak mask bill as too much government.

The committee almost joined Senator Tobin in opposing Senate Bill 125. The initial vote on Tobin’s kill motion failed by just one vote, but so did the vote on doctor and Senator R. Blake Curd’s motion to pass. Even with an amendment ending the mask mandate on April 30 instead of September 30, House Health and Human Services could only send SB 125 to the Senate floor without recommendation.

At least one Republican medical professional, Dr. Curd, is willing to put his professional expertise and commitment ahead of his party’s talking points. But nurse and Senator Tobin shows that we can’t count on such professional commitment and consistency from the people who play the Republican game.


  1. o 2021-02-04 08:32

    This new GOP rhetoric about not judging people who choose not to wear a mask (even at times couched in language that wearing a mask is the better choice) should extend to choices of which gender-designated bathroom I choose to use and who I marry. After all, neither of those two latter choices spread deadly virus to my neighbors.

    Again, the dissonance between the testimony and the committee vote leads me to observe that the GOP still identifies as the anti-science party.

  2. RST Tribal Member at 57572 2021-02-04 09:23

    Keep in mind the South Dakota political picture has evolved into a 1 party mindset. The inbreeding of political viewpoints is evident with the debate on SB 125. The 1 party of small government has become big and intrusive, then twisted itself into “for us to act for you is good governance”. The voters pass referendums, then the legislators take them away for the good of the voters. This year there is legislation introduced that would set the initiative bar high for citizen participation; font size, margins and mandatory language that would allow for a few signatures per page. Or giving the Secretary of State veto powers over initiatives. The latest poke in the eye for the 1 party state leadership was the passing of two weed initiatives last November. The weed initiatives got more votes in 2020 then some state leaders got in 2018. Weed referendums were funded by out-of-state interests, kinda like the campaign war chest built up by outside funds raising to enable Ms. Noem next political venture. The balance might happen in November 2022.

  3. John C 2021-02-04 09:35

    Kristi and Nurse Ratched Tobin continue to push anti-science “freedom”, while the numbers starkly prove otherwise…SD’s death rate, if extrapolated to the entire USA, would give us about 660K deaths ( instead of 451K). This is almost 1.5 X the national rate.

    Cold, calculating killers both.

  4. mike from iowa 2021-02-04 10:16

    South Dakota’s magats aren’t alone in being goofy. In iowa, SOH, a magat, won’t enforce mask wearing , but, refused to allow a female Dem to speak because she wore jeans in protest of dress code.

    Last updated: February 04, 2021, 16:05 GMT
    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    3840 bodies surrendered on Wednesday.

  5. Loren 2021-02-04 10:38

    Yesterday, alone, Kristi achieved a bit of notoriety for being STUPID… excuse me… for doing little to nothing during the pandemic to keep her people safe. She made the front page of the Washington Post, the USAToday and was on national and cable news. SD is getting noticed, and not in a good way. It is embarrassing to have a governor known as the second coming of Sarah Palin. Geezlouise!

  6. bearcreekbat 2021-02-04 11:34

    Loren, perhaps SD’s wannabe Trumpist clown-clone Noem buys into the suggestion of P.T. Barham that:

    “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”

    or perhaps Oscar Wilde, the Irish poet and playwright, who wrote,

    “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”

    or her personal hero DJT who asserted

    “all press is good press.”

    Whatever her desire, Noem is becoming a household joke or hero across the nation.

  7. Chris S. 2021-02-04 12:28

    I think there’s three levels of compliance: demand, ask, and convince.

    That there’s some authentic frontier gibberish. It’s just a wordy way of saying “I don’t wanna!” while making it look like you’ve given the issue Deep Thought.

  8. robin friday 2021-02-04 13:40

    For a solid year we have quarantined, isolated, asked, begged, bugged, wheedled, whined, cajoled, coaxed, and beseeched people to mask up to reduce spread, without success. There comes a time when all that must harden into mandate, for the public good. Never mind me, I don’t like mandates any better than the next person, but NO, you DON’T have the right to your “freedom”, not when it is to the detriment of the public good. You had your chance to help out. I’m doing my part. Time for you to do yours.

  9. Jenny 2021-02-04 13:53

    Well said, Robin. Kind of like when SD people thought they had the right to smoke anywhere or not wear a seatbelt.
    Change is incredibly hard for South Dakotans.
    Years from now, intelligent people in future generations will look back and think how loony the anti-maskers were.

  10. Mark Anderson 2021-02-04 14:02

    Don’t you all feel liberated. Thankfully you don’t live in New Zealand. Trump warned you about their big outbreak of five people months ago. Grudz said New Zealand would be slobberknocked from the covid bugs worse than anyone within a few months. That blockades don’t keep out the covid bugs, and the science says you can’t stop the virus. Is Grudz always so very, very, wrong?

  11. mike from iowa 2021-02-04 14:53

    I’d want to check magat meaning of liberate since it sounds like a word liberals would use as a positive experience. And, to magats, liberal is a pejorative.

    Rermember, Americans help to liberate concentration camps and you see which bunch of liberated people are the boogey men of magats. That is correct…. Jews.

  12. mike from iowa 2021-02-04 14:55

    In the above comment, I neglected to equate wasicu scumacysts with magats and those are the vocal fecal material that blame Jews for all our problerms.

  13. Arlo Blundt 2021-02-04 14:56

    well, I’m a older fella and I’ve been bunkered inside my house for the last nine months because the “Good People” out there have an inflated opinion of their personal liberty, and no sense of civic responsibility. Its too bad that thousands of older people have to die before their time so the “good people” can shop in comfort. So much for “Right to Life”, good people.

  14. grudznick 2021-02-04 17:14

    Mr. Anderson, perhaps grudznick was wrong about the Zealanders, but golly how did those roadblocks work out on the reservations? Even today, Oglalla Lakota has substantial community spread and an infection rate higher than most free counties, and in neighboring Jackson county there is currently zero community spread. And no roadblocks if you want to go to Kadoka.

  15. mike from iowa 2021-02-04 18:42

    ICYW, Dems and 11 wingnuts voted to strip Q-Anon loon of her assigment seats in Congress today. She is still in congress, but partially neutered.

  16. leslie 2021-02-04 18:51

    Tobin’s Trump moment. “I will stand by my people that they are good people, and that’s why I voted this way,” Tobin said. So we do have a state Senator as stupid as Palin, Trump, Noem and GA Rep MTG, and grdz.

    “There wete many fine people” chanting “Jews shall not replace us.” Then running down 20-30 protesters in the street in a hi-speed murder.

    Common sense? Your equivocation: “but golly how did those roadblocks work out on the reservations?”

    “Senator Red Dawn Foster captured the grave consequences of Tobin’s confused priorities well:

    We could’ve been good neighbors and willingly wore masks,” said Foster. “But because it’s been so tainted, it’s now an issue of freedom … and a lot of people in my community have died”.

    That’s what happened, grdz. We all know the fragility of reservation health care. Your rationalizations led to the capitol storming and murder and injury of dozens of LOEs. Done under bogus “blue lives matter” “American” flags.

    Murder. That’s how it is working out.

    “Patriots” now means armed right wing extremists looking for civil war. “Freedom” and “free county” means an excuse to weaponize “common sense in a world-wide pandemic.”

    We can only hope your mockery of this crisis leads to a swift end.

  17. leslie 2021-02-04 18:53

    …sense” in a world-wide pandemic.

  18. Mark Anderson 2021-02-04 21:45

    Bait and switch’em Grudz I’m sure they would have been much better off if they opened up the rez, whats one death among the many more that would have happened.

  19. grudznick 2021-02-04 21:50

    Every death is tragic, Mr. Anderson. Do not get grudznick wrong or I will verbally beat you about the head and shoulders.

    I am only glad that Jackson county has incurred far fewer deaths, while keeping businesses open and not walling themselves off from the world. Because, you know…you can’t live in a box. grudznick doesn’t remember much of it any longer, but I’m told there’s a whole big world out there like there used to be. I am pleased for my good friends in the county of Jackson.

    PS: Bob, they need you to do a hot dog check there. It is overdue.

  20. leslie 2021-02-04 23:16

    Kristi, “After Hundreds of Meatpacking Workers Died From COVID-19, Congress Wants Answers — ProPublica”

  21. Spike 2021-02-05 05:33

    Jackson County population 3200 1200 homes
    Oglala Lakota county 14, 500
    3000 homes.
    Which many are in terrible condition. Terrible. Grudz you should go help fix a couple up. I’m sure the people at the checkpoint would let you thru if you had some lumber and a stove you were taking to a grandmother that has 5 grandchildren with her. Who also spend alot of their money shopping in RC supporting the conservatives for common sense businesses. Which then allows your breakfast friends to buy, thus providing you with extra gravy.

  22. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-02-05 07:31

    Funny that Christians who believe in original sin should be so worried about defending their status as “good people.” We are all dirt in the eyes of the Lord. He loves us dirt, but we’re still dirt, none of us worthy of praise. None of our works or our “decisions” change our fundamental unworthiness.

    Absent any true terrestrial saintliness, we should focus on good practical policy. Save lives, stay home like Arlo, and protect Arlo on his few ventures out for provisions by wearing your mask.

  23. Happy 2021-02-06 09:26

    South Dakotans have been isolating forever, our agricultural state has a natural tendantcy to isolate! Look at what a mask mandate has done for California! Their numbers don’t speak well for their so called mask mandate. All you are asking to do with a mask mandate is inspire neighbor to tell on neighbor, friend to turn on friend! Look at California’s leaders, top to bottom they aren’t following their own rules but the lowly 9-5 guy is supposed to shut down his business and send his employees home, what the what! You actually follow these hypocritical clowns!! Open your eyes people, if you are compromised stay home. If you need to work your job work your job! Shaming people for wanting to protect their livelihood only makes your stance more hypocritical!

  24. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-02-07 17:40

    “Happy” (not to be confused with regular commenter Happy Camper), how shameful that you shame me for shaming others.

    South Dakota death rate from coronavirus per 100K residents: 202.

    California, same metric: 109. Minnesota: 112.

    Shame on us.

    Mask mandates save lives and save money:

    — face masks were 79% effective in preventing transmission, if they were used by all household members prior to symptoms occurring;
    — the use of masks was strongly protective, with a risk reduction of 70% for those that always wore a mask when going out;
    — transmission was 7.5 times higher in countries that did not have a mask mandate;
    — the difference between U.S. states with mask mandates and those without found that the daily growth rate was 2 percentage points lower in states with mask mandates, estimating that the mandates had prevented 230,000 to 450,000 COVID-19 cases by last May 22;
    — face masks have a large reduction effect on infections and fatalities, with a potential impact on U.S. GDP of $1 trillion if a nationwide mask mandate were implemented; and
    — the marginal benefit per cloth mask worn to be in the range from $3,000 to $6,000 [Liz Spear, “UCLA Public Health Researchers: Mask Mandates Save Lives, Money,” Patch, 2021.01.18].

    Shame on you, “Happy,” for denying plain science in favor of your political and/or personal prejudices.

  25. happy camper 2021-02-07 17:51

    Happy Camper thinks we should believe in the best science possible, and everyone think of ourselves as scientists even if we weren’t trained as such. Logical minds are a terrible thing to waste.

  26. grudznick 2021-02-07 18:23

    grudznick agrees with Happy Camper

  27. bearcreekbat 2021-02-07 18:45

    Just to add a few thoughts to Cory’s response to Happy (not happy camper):

    First, as best I can tell no one is “Shaming people for wanting to protect their livelihood.”

    Next, rather the shaming is for refusing to take a relatively easy step to protect people you come into contact with from a potentially fatal disease that can be transmitted by someone who hasn’t yet experienced symptoms. If Happy refuses to wear a mask, then shame on Happy for caring so little for the safety of people he or she comes into contact with. Intentionally risking transmitting a highly contagious disease known to endanger someone else’s health and life deserves shaming.

    And the hubris necessary to take a relatively simple step like wearing a mask simply because scientists and medical experts who say wearing a mask saves lives might be mistaken is shameful. Wearing a mask will cost the wearer at the worst a minor inconvenience if the scientists and medical experts happen to be wrong about the protection a mask provides against unknowingly transmitting the disease to other people. But refusing to wear a mask may cost innocent people their life or health if the scientists and medical experts happen to be correct. Given the potential comparative costs involved, it is shameful to ignore the possiiblity that these scientists and medical experts just might be correct.

  28. grudznick 2021-02-11 20:41

    Now, with Ms. Taffy laid low by the covid bugs, how will Mr. Nesiba get his voice heard? He was using Ms. Taffy to carry out his missions but now that she has become Covid Taffy, the Spreader of the Bug, how will he get any traction for his law bills?

  29. grudznick 2021-02-11 20:57

    I don’t blame Ms. Taffy for having covid bugs, don’t get me wrong. She is very pretty and I am sure many people were breathing close to her during the legislatures. grudznick does kind of blame her for becoming a libbie tool, only used as a mechanism to spread the Nesiba misinformation. Ms. Taffy is very young and inexperienced, and Mr. Nesiba is taking advantage. Again.

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