US Senator Mike Rounds says wearing a mask should not be a political statement.
He doesn’t think masks should be mandated, but he says South Dakotan’s should wear a mask to slow the spread of infection to senior citizens and children.
It’s a different tone than Governor Kristi Noem, who is pushing against mask mandates, instead.
Rounds says people should not be afraid to wear a mask, especially if they’re indoors.
In travelling the state for various events, the former Republican governor says he’s seeing more people wear masks in the east and central parts of the state, and less mask wearing west river.
He attributes that to population density and coronavirus caseload.
Rounds says South Dakota is different than the rest of the country, but that doesn’t mean it’s residents are immune to the virus.
“Let’s do it because it’s not painful to wear the mask, let’s wear the mask when we’re in our groups,” Rounds says. “But, when you’re outside and you know you’re not in the middle of a large group—it doesn’t mean you got to wear a mask. I think people can figure that out for themselves. I think that’s what the governor is suggesting is, ‘we’re adults, we’ve got that common sense built in here. Let’s use it and let’s wear the mask when we’re in groups.’ If you’re out and you’re on your own and you’re out in your fields and so-forth, you don’t have to wear your mask.”
Governor Noem, meanwhile, says people should have the freedom to wear masks it it makes them feel safe. She says the science on masks is mixed.
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control is affirming a study that finds “cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities.” It goes on to say “there is increasing evidence cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.”
Lee Strubinger is the politics and public policy reporter for SDPB.