Governor Bucks Trend by Refusing To Issue Stay-at-Home Order: 'I Believe in Our Freedoms and Liberties'


South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, one of the few governors who has yet to issue a stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic, defended her decision Thursday to leave social distancing up to her constituents.

The Republican governor joined Fox News‘ “The Ingraham Angle” to discuss her decision to keep South Dakota open, as well as the criticism she is facing from Democrats and the establishment media calling for her to immediately shut down the state’s economy.

“I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of our state, of South Dakota. I took an oath when I was in congress, obviously, to uphold the constitution of the United States. I believe in our freedoms and liberties,” Noem told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

“What I’ve seen across the country is so many people give up their liberties for just a little bit of security. And they don’t have to do that,” she said.

“If a leader will take too much power in a time of crisis, that is how we lose our country. So I felt like I’ve had to use every single opportunity to talk about why we slow things down, we make decisions based on science and facts and make sure that we are not letting emotion grab a hold of the situation,” Noem continued.

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The governor has become a target of the establishment media over her refusal to shut down the state’s economy, even in the face of a COVID-19 outbreak at a plant of the nation’s largest pork processor, Smithfield Foods, in Sioux Falls.

Nearly 600 of the company’s employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, while 135 more confirmed cases are directly related to the plant, USA Today reported.

The plant, which employs 3,700 people, is now closed temporarily and cases related to the Smithfield plant make up just over half of cases statewide in South Dakota.

Do you agree with Gov. Noem's decision to keep South Dakota open amid the coronavirus pandemic?

According to data from Johns Hopkins, South Dakota has a total of 1,311 COVID-19 cases with seven deaths.

Regarding the establishment media and politicians such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticizing her handling of the outbreak at the processing plant, Gov. Noem said the pork plant would have remained open whether there was a shutdown or not.

“What they are neglecting to tell folks is that this processing plant is critical infrastructure. Regardless of a shelter-in-place order or not, it would have been up and running because it’s an important part of our nation’s food supply,” Noem said.

“So that’s what’s been happening on the national level, is they’ve been not telling all the facts behind this,” the governor told Ingraham.

“We are addressing the one hot spot that we do have and aggressively testing in that area,” she said. “And South Dakotans are doing a fantastic job following my recommendations.”

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Noem added that she has been able to keep South Dakota open for business while allowing people to “take on some personal responsibility.”

“The people of South Dakota can be trusted to make good decisions. We have common sense. That’s why people want to live here, and that’s why I love living here,” Noem said.

Noem took to Twitter this week to defend her decision not to shut down her entire state over the cases linked to Smithfield.

Noem has become a target of liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

“The governor just lets this problem get bigger and bigger and bigger, and wants to think that she can pretend it out of existence,” Warren told Maddow in a Wednesday interview.

South Dakota joins Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming in not having a statewide stay-at-home order in place.

Every state without an order mandating citizens to stay at home is run by a Republican governor.

Six out of eight of those states without stay-at-home orders are in the top 10 in the country with regard to the lowest unemployment, according to CNN Money.

CORRECTION, April 28, 2020: This article previously misstated the number of people employed at the Sioux Falls plant. Smithfield Foods employs 54,000 people worldwide, and 3,700 people at its Sioux Falls plant.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.