News and Commentary

WATCH: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Responds To Critics Of Her Not Implementing State Lockdown
Representative Kristi Noem, a Republican from South Dakota, speaks during a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enrollment ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. Republicans want to channel momentum from the GOP's victory on taxes into a push to overhaul the nation's welfare programs, though some of President Donald Trump's advisers prefer a less controversial infrastructure plan at the top of his agenda.
Photographer: Aaron P. Bernstein/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has taken a lot of heat for taking a more relaxed approach in her state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spaeaking on “The Ingraham Angle” on Thursday, Noem, however, maintained that shutting down her state would have created far bigger problems, and that the media “have not been telling all the facts behind this.”

“I had a real honest conversation with the people in our state. I told them I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of our state, of South Dakota,” said the governor. “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. 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.”

Noem further warned that leaders taking an unprecedented amount of power could create problems in the future.

“If a leader will take too much power in a time of crisis, that is how we lose our country,” said Noem. “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 ahold of the situation.”

Earlier this week, The Washington Post hammered Noem for not issuing a statewide lockdown after an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred at a pork-processing plant.

The state of just 900,000 people has just 1,300 cases of the virus and seven deaths. As noted by Fox News, the Sioux Falls Smithfield Foods is one of the country’s largest pork-processing facilities that became a hotspot for more than half of the state’s COVID-19 cases.

“At least 438 employees at the Sioux Falls Smithfield Foods plant tested positive for COVID-19,” reported the outlet.  Another 107 people tested positive after coming into close contact with Smithfield workers. The plant accounts for between 4 to 5 percent of U.S.’ pork production, according to the company.”

Speaking on “The Ingraham Angle,” Noem noted that the pork-processing plant where the outbreak occurred would have been opened anyway due to it being critical infrastructure. Similar outbreaks have been occurring at Amazon warehouses in states like New York, which has strict lockdown procedures.

“What they are neglecting to tell folks is that this processing plant is critical infrastructure,” said Noem. “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,” she continued. “So that’s what’s been happening on the national level. They have not been telling all the facts behind this.”

“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,” she continued. “We’ve got one issue in a pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but outside of that, two-thirds of our state has no cases or one case in an entire county, so we’re doing very well as a state. We are addressing the one hot spot that we do have and aggressively testing in that area.”

Noem praised the people of her state for doing a “fantastic job” at following her health guidelines and taking personal responsibility.

“We should be tracking who is in the hospital, what the death rate is, and South Dakotans are doing a fantastic job following my recommendations, and we’ve been able to keep our businesses open and allow people to take on some personal responsibility,” she said. “We’ve had a dramatic impact on the slowing down of the spread, and we’ll be able to handle it with a capacity in our health care systems, and it’s all because of decisions that the people made and the fact that we worked together to do that. And I think that’s what’s been unique in South Dakota.”