Governor Kristi Noem

The number of COVID-19 cases among Smithfield workers at the Sioux Falls meatpacking plant continues to rise. The plant now accounts for 44% of the state’s COVID-19 cases.

Governor Kristi Noem is denying Sioux Falls mayor Paul TenHaken’s requests for a state-led response to the spike in cases.  

The situation is getting national attention and furthering criticism of Governor Kristi Noem’s refusal to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. 

The governor continues to defend her decision.

South Dakota is launching the first statewide trial of a possible treatment for COVID-19 in the nation. The trial drug typically treats malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.   

President Donald Trump has pointed to hydroxychloroquine as a potential therapeutic for COVID-19, though its effectiveness has not yet been confirmed.

Governor Noem says she’s been asking the president and other members of his administration to allow South Dakota to launch a statewide trial. This weekend, the state received a shipment of the drug.

Smithfield Foods is closing its Sioux Falls meatpacking plant indefinitely after hundreds of its employees contracted COVID-19. Over the weekend, Governor Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken asked the company to close the plant for at least two weeks. 

Smithfield had already announced a three-day closure through Monday to sanitize the plant and add physical barriers. On Saturday, Governor Noem requested the company to follow the recommended 14-day isolation period for potential COVID-19 exposure.

Gov. Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken want Smithfield Foods to close its Sioux Falls meatpacking plant for two weeks. The plant is in Minnehaha County, which reports 438 COVID-19 cases. Of those, 238  cases are identified as Smithfield employees.

Gov. Noem says the request also asks Smithfield to pay its employees while the plant is closed. 

Mike Wagner: Medical Information Privacy

Apr 10, 2020

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Dakota Political Junkies

Apr 8, 2020

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Mayor Paul Aylward & PIO Mark Johnson

Apr 8, 2020

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SD 1 Of 5 States Without A Stay-At-Home Order

Apr 7, 2020

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South Dakota is one of five states in the country without a stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And despite requests, the South Dakota Department of Health has not declared a public health emergency. 

Governor Kristi Noem has been hesitant to employ a statewide declaration. Instead, she's opting for executive orders that leave some local government leaders unclear about their authority. SDPB's Lee Strubinger reports:

Governor Noem has issued an executive order that urges some citizens in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties to stay home for the next three weeks. The request includes adults over 65 and people with chronic conditions to limit their exposure to the coronavirus. 

Noem says data shows these people are at greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

State health officials are reluctant to address questions about the projected death rates for COVID-19. They say infection rates, mitigation efforts, and other factors make it difficult to predict, but they outlined the formula they are using. 

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon says the department’s projections focus on predicting hospital capacity needs, but she notes previous estimates of death rates from COVID-19.

“That ranges from 0.5 to 3 percent of positive cases.”

State of South Dakota

Governor Kristi Noem says the number of COVID-19 cases in South Dakota may peak in the middle of June.

That’s based on current projections and state actions so far.

Models show the state will need 5-thousand hospital beds when COVID-19 hits its peak. The projection also estimates the state will need 1,300 ventilators. Governor Noem says they are working now to get more ventilators.

South Dakota is one of five states without a stay at home order. The other are North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Arkansas.

Woster Talks Gov Noem's Handling Of COVID-19

Apr 2, 2020

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Governor Kristi Noem has handled the coronavirus crisis with consistency both in her policy and her messaging. South Dakotans have come to expect the governor to stand by her word and stick to her guns. Is that helping or hurting? SDPB's Kevin Woster joins us with thoughts on how Noem has led the state during the crisis and how what she sees as the role of government makes a big difference in how we face the pandemic. You can find his blog online at  

Cara Hetland / SDPB

Governor Kristi Noem has already issued a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus. But many are waiting for her to declare a public health emergency. 

That distinction is frustrating local leaders—especially after lawmakers defeated a bill that would have granted more specific authorities during a public health emergency. 

A state of emergency gives the governor more flexibility to work with federal partners. It also triggers certain state resources. For instance, the governor declared a state of emergency last year to help responses during major flooding. 

The number of COVID-19 cases in South Dakota will increase in the coming months. As a result, Governor Kristi Noem has released an executive order recommending business and community responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

The order is not a legal mandate, even though state law gives the governor such authority during an emergency.

Governor Kristi Noem issued an executive order establishing that every South Dakota business and government agency should adhere to important public health guidelines.

Governor Says Schools Should Stay Closed Until May

Mar 24, 2020

Governor Noem recommends that all k-12 school districts remain closed until early May. She says that course of action offers consistency in the approach to educating South Dakota students during the pandemic. 

The governor says she’s open to reevaluate school closings in May. But until then, schools are closed.

An Expert's Take On The Numbers

Mar 24, 2020

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State of South Dakota

Governor Kristi Noem says projections show coronavirus cases in South Dakota will continue to increase until at least May.

Noem says the information comes from data and modelling designed to predict the spread of the virus.

During a Facebook live address, Noem said the number of COVID-19 cases will continue to increase.

The South Dakota Public Health Lab is not able to process test results for COVID-19 due to a nationwide shortage of supplies. Governor Kristi Noem says other states are facing a similar situation. 

In a press conference in Rapid City this afternoon, Governor Noem says she hopes the next shipment of enzymes and other necessary supplies arrives within the day—but she cautions that other expected shipments have been canceled. The governor says the state lab will work around the clock to process tests as soon as supplies arrive.

Governor Declares State of Emergency, Closes Schools

Mar 13, 2020

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.

South Dakota is now identifying eight presumptive positive cases of COVID 19 in the state.

Two males in Minnehaha county now test positive, as well as another male in Bon Homme county.

Governor Kristi Noem says those who are elderly or have compromised immune systems should make wise decisions.

Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

South Dakota is confirming five positive cases of COVID 19—the disease cause by coronavirus, with two test kits pending.

Those five positive cases are sprinkled throughout the state. One case in Pennington County is related to a man in his 60’s who died on Tuesday.

The cases are considered presumptive positive. Governor Kristi Noem says they’re waiting on confirmation from the Center for Disease Control.


South Dakota’s public health lab has confirmed five cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. Governor Noem is partially activating the state’s emergency operations center. She says the state and its healthcare professionals are prepared to respond.

The confirmed cases are in Beadle, Charles-Mix, Davison and Minnehaha counties. The fifth case in Pennington county is related to a man in his 60’s with underlying health issues who died on Tuesday.

Governor Noem says COVID-19 is not confirmed to be the cause of death.

Governor Noem supports a bill prohibiting collective bargaining for faculty at the state’s six public universities. Senate Bill 147 is on its way to her desk as one of two related bills that surfaced this session.

The governor agrees with proponents who say eliminating collective bargaining will offer greater flexibility for university hiring practices.


A House committee is passing Governor Kristi Noem’s county zoning and appeals process bill--moving along to it’s last step before reaching her desk.
Noem says the bill will aid in developing rural South Dakota. Critics call it an attack on local control.
Among several things, the bill standardizes the vote threshold for counties when approving projects that require conditional use permits--like wind farms, hog barns and utility projects.

Noem Selects Venhuizen For Chief Of Staff

Mar 2, 2020
Governor's Office

Governor Kristi Noem is naming former-Governor Dennis Daugaard’s chief of staff as her new chief of staff.

Tony Venhuizen served during Daugaard’s second term in office. He is Noem’s third chief of staff since taking office just over one year and one month ago.

Governor Noem says Venhuizen brings a unique set of skills to her team, given his tenure in the executive branch and wealth of historical knowledge.

Noem Says State Is Ready To Respond To Coronavirus

Feb 27, 2020

Governor Kristi Noem says the state is prepared for the coronavirus if it reaches South Dakota.

She says there’s a low risk of the virus reaching the state. The Department of Health has formed an internal task force to prepare. Noem says that group is reaching out to providers daily.

Governor Noem is partnering with the South Dakota Arts Council to host the first South Dakota Governor’s Student Art Competition.

The statewide visual arts competition is intended to encourage creativity among the state’s students.

Governor Noem wants young artists to pursue their talents in South Dakota—a state famous for public art from Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse to the Faulkton grain elevator murals. Over the next few months, the South Dakota Arts Council will develop competition guidelines and send them to schools.

Lee Strubinger SDPB

South Dakota's refurbished riot legislation has been passed by House State Affairs. The bill rewrites last year's "riot boosting" law designed to squelch pipeline protests. The committee heard testimony on Wednesday, Feb. 12, and although there was strong opposition by the Speaker of the House, the bill passed on a 10-3 vote.

Most proponents say the law keeps protests peaceful. But opponents say the bill still steps on rights of free speech and assembly.

State of South Dakota

Governor Kristi Noem will present a bill that deals with the expansion of what she calls “ag opportunities.”

She plans on announcing details of the legislation at the Black Hills Stock Show on Friday.

Noem says the legislation will create integrity for the process of developing ag projects throughout the state.

“It really does deal with creating a uniform process across the state for developing ag projects,” Noem says. “Making sure there are there are timeframes and integrity and that it’s a transparent process.”

Victoria Wicks file photo

Last year Governor Kristi Noem introduced legislation designed to squelch pipeline protests and collect money from protest supporters.

The governor brought the bills late, and the legislature rushed them through to passage. But a federal lawsuit put a quick stop to one of them on constitutional grounds.

Now the governor has again introduced the legislation, but this time early in the session with major fixes.