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Governor Kristi Noem

Considered a rising political star, South Dakota Governor resisted taking any action on COVID-19 early on, when the state could have stopped its spread. In fact, she even disparaged masks.

As a result, cases spiked, especially in meatpacking plants and Sioux City. Noem downplayed the threat of the virus even afterwards and made months of poor decisions that has the state as one of the worst hotspots in the country today.

Even federal judges have condemned Noem for her failure to control the virus, with one calling South Dakota "now a very dangerous place in which to live due to the spread of COVID-19" and placing the blame squarely on Noem's poor judgment.

Governor Kristi Noem


  • April 13th: South Dakota becomes a COVID-19 hotspot thanks to outbreaks in meat plants with over 300 cases. As the mayor of Sioux City and even Republican officials call for a lockdown, Noem still declines to issue any directives. 
  • April 17th: Noem continues to refuse to take action, issue any shelter-at-home orders or mandate masks. 
  • “The people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety," Noem says. "They are the ones that are entrusted with expansive freedoms. They're free to exercise their rights to work, to worship, and to play. Or to even stay at home, or to conduct social distancing." 
  • April 28th: Noem announces a plan called “Back to Normal” that would include a reopening of the Smithfield meat plant, a COVID hotspot. 
  • May 11th: With little intervention, cases begin to skyrocket, especially in meat plants. South Dakota surges past 3,000 cases.
  • June 30th: As Noem promotes a July 4th celebration with fireworks at Mount Rushmore, to be attended by President Trump, she tells Laura Ingraham that the thousands of people due to attend “will not be social distancing.” She also says masks will be optional. 
  • July 29th: Noem announces that she will push to reopen schools in the fall — and disparages the idea that they might be asked to wear masks. In fact, she once again suggested that masks didn’t work at all, saying that there was “very mixed research and the science has not proven what's effective and what isn't."
  • August 5th: With the massive Sturgis Motorcycle Rally just days away, Noem goes on Fox News to encourage people to attend the event. She says that governors who shut their states down are overstepping and violating the Constitution. In doing so, she ignores the wishes of county officials and residents who wanted the event, which generally draws 250,000 attendees, canceled.
  • December 28th: A federal judge slams Noem for her conduct in a ruling that blocks the state's effort to delay criminal trials while allowing all other activity in the state.

    "The Governor has steadfastly refused to impose a statewide mask mandate. She has often questioned publicly the scientific fact that mask wearing prevents the virus from spreading. she appeared at a dedication ceremony for a large 3M Company in Aberdeen manufacturing plant expansion — to allow 3M to produce even more N95 respirators needed by front-line healthcare workers — as the only public official not wearing a mask. Her example significantly encourages South Dakotans to not wear masks. South Dakota is now a very dangerous place in which to live due to the spread of COVID-19. Even a casual observer must note the failure of most residents of South Dakota to wear masks and maintain social distancing."