Governor Declares State of Emergency, Closes Schools

Mar 13, 2020

Credit SDPB

Governor Kristi Noem has declared a state of emergency, which allows state agencies to accept funding or other resources to treat and stop the spread of COVID-19.

In a press conference on Friday, the governor announced several other precautions—including statewide school closures.

Governor Noem is calling for all public k-12 schools to close next week. She’s encouraging private schools to do the same.

“I’m recommending the schools use this time to clean their facilities and to prepare for the following week,” she says during the announcement.

In addition, the governor is postponing all state basketball tournaments and all other extracurriculars. And in an executive order, she is calling on all non-essential state employees to work remotely.

Friday morning, South Dakota Chief Justice David Gilbertson issued a judicial emergency, allowing circuit courts to take their own precautionary actions.

Despite these measures, Governor Noem says the trends are encouraging. So far, none of the 9 cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota are a result of community transmission.

“The things we’re implementing today and for the next week are proactive," Noem says. "We’re going to make sure that we’re keeping people safe, that we’re making good decisions. our schools will use this opportunity to clean their facilities and make sure that we continue the encouraging news and good trends, and that we also will make sure that we’re doing due diligence when it comes to our court system, to our state employees, and then how we’re bringing large events together.”  

New guidelines form the CDC also allow for single-specimen testing for COVID-19 instead of two-specimen testing, which the governor says effectively doubles the state’s testing capacity.

State Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon adds another shipment of test kits are set to arrive in the coming days.

“But again, providers have the testing equipment that they need, and supplies, and the state health lab does as well," she says.

The Department of Health will continue updating COVID-19 test results by noon each day through the weekend.