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South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem defended her response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday while panning recommendations and guidelines issued throughout by the country’s lead immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“In South Dakota, I provided all of the information that we had to our people, and then I trusted them to make the best decisions for themselves [on how to prevent the spread of the virus] for their families and in turn their communities,” she said.
“We never focused on case numbers. Instead, we kept our eye on hospital capacity. Dr. Fauci told me that I would have 10,000 COVID patients in the hospital on our worst day. On our worst day, we had a little over 600. I don’t know if you agree but, Fauci is wrong a lot,” Noem said.
The increasingly popular Republican governor also contrasted her response to the pandemic with that of New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who recently has been accused of hiding the number of COVID deaths in nursing homes and undercounting them on official tallies by at least 50 percent.
She described an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week” in November, when host George Stephanopoulos asked Cuomo, who appeared before her, if he had any advice for Noem on how to handle the pandemic.
“[Stephanopoulos] asked Cuomo to give me advice on how to deal with COVID. Now seems like a good time to remind everyone of what Governor Cuomo was doing in New York,” Noem said as she led into details about the allegations against Cuomo, who, in March 2020, ordered nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients even though health experts knew older adults with preexisting medical conditions were far more susceptible to contracting the virus and dying from it.
She also noted that Cuomo’s administration then pushed legislation that prohibited punitive and legal action against nursing homes over coronavirus deaths.
“Six days after that, he prohibited nursing homes from sending COVID patients to the nearby Naval hospital ship or the field hospital — Both of which were essentially empty,” she said, referencing the USNS Comfort which had been ordered to New York City by then-President Donald Trump. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had also built a large hospital facility in the Javits Center.
“Eight days after that, the first deaths began to show up,” she said.
Noem talked about how the mainstream media and Democrats lambasted her approach to the pandemic, slamming her as “ill-informed, reckless and even a ‘denier.’
“Some even claimed that South Dakota is ‘as bad as it gets anywhere in the world’ when it comes to COVID-19—that is a lie,” she said.
Notably, Noem never shut down her state’s economic activity or locked down her citizens, but rather provided South Dakotans with as much information as was available about the pandemic so they could make their own decisions, much like the country of Sweden.
“The media did all of this while simultaneously praising governors who issued lockdowns, mandated masks, and shut down businesses—applauding them as having taken the ‘right’ steps to mitigate the spread of the virus,” she said.
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