PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem sent out a press release noting the lessons she’s learned from the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to state government, emphasizing her belief that more freedom rather than government relation “is the answer.”

“Freedom is a better friend of true science than government-centered and government-controlled science,” Noem stated in the Monday, June 8 release.

“Freedom, not government, is the best friend of innovation. Freedom focuses our politics on persuasion and the intellectual strength of our positions, not on control, coercion or the heavy hand of government. And if someone is interested in the common good in all its iterations and complexities, freedom is the one and only choice.”

Noem said her approach to combating the novel coronavirus was to provide South Dakotans with all the information she could and trust them to exercise their freedom to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

“We took a unique path — we haven't locked people up, forced businesses or churches to close, or ordered a statewide shelter in place,” Noem said.

Noem relinquished power to close businesses and other establishments to local municipal governments. Legislation proposed on the last day of the 2020 legislative session that would give counties similar authority to pass ordinances and resolutions that would place restrictions on businesses failed to pass.

Noem went on to address media scrutiny of her approach, saying, “The mainstream media attack those who push for freedom and for people to be able to make the best decisions for their families. But politicians who take away people’s freedoms and enforce lockdowns are praised — and shielded from real scrutiny.”

“Some think COVID-19 will accelerate the move of people out of cities,” Noem said. “That story is still being written, but one of the few things we know about this virus is that density is one of the key factors contributing to its spread. Because of that, New York and Silicon Valley may look very different in the future.”

Noem said that the “new normal” may be different from the past, but that the future is bright. “And to those concerned about what the future might hold for you if you stay where you are right now, come to South Dakota — the air is fresh, the people are free, and the possibilities are endless.”

South Dakota’s number of known positive COVID-19 cases rose by 33 to 5,471 on Monday, according to the South Dakota Department of Health.

The state currently has 1,003 active cases with 92 people currently hospitalized, according to the testing data.

Minnehaha County currently has the most active cases with 290, while Beadle County follows close behind with 204 active cases. Both counties are home to large meat processing plants where outbreaks have occurred among staff.

Pennington County has 181 active cases and Brown County has 44 active cases as of Monday.

The state’s death toll due to COVID-19 remains at 65, with no new fatalities reported since Friday.

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