Department of Health Encourages Responsibility Ahead of Mt. Rushmore Event

Jul 2, 2020

The South Dakota Department of Health will not encourage people who attend this weekend’s fireworks show at Mt. Rushmore to get a COVID-19 test afterward. Instead, health officials say people should to take measures on their own to prevent spreading the virus. 

Around 7,500 people have tickets to Friday’s fireworks display, which President Donald Trump plans to attend. Masks are not required, and Governor Kristi Noem says they will not enforce any social distancing measures.

State epidemiologist Josh Clayton says the Department of Health provided input ahead of the event. He says it’s still important to wash hands, wear a mask, and stay as physically distant as possible to prevent spreading coronavirus.

“What I would say is the guidance has not changed in that respect. Individuals do need to take precautions into their own hands when they are out—whether it be grocery shopping, going out to other events such as picnics and fireworks celebrations, including the fireworks celebration at Mt. Rushmore.”

Dr. Clayton says self-isolating and testing for COVID-19 is typically recommended for people who know they’ve been exposed to the virus. 

“Just because there are going to be individuals that are going to be in close proximity, that doesn’t equate to an exposure event in and of itself," he explains. "But again, coming back to that core messaging of individuals taking precautions that would decrease any potential transmission.”

Governor Noem told Fox News earlier this week that people who are concerned about the large gathering can stay home. She says free face masks will be available at the monument for those who want them.