Noem extends executive order; urges more caution in Sioux Falls area
Gov. Kristi Noem has extended an executive order aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in South Dakota, and is also urging at-risk people living in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties to stay home.
Noem stopped short of issuing a full stay-at-home order Monday, as South Dakota remains one of only a handful of states without one.
"We are at a crucial juncture," Noem said in Monday's press briefing, saying the state is sticking to its plan while also adding stronger measures.
The governor said she will issue an order urging people more susceptible to the coronavirus living in Lincoln and Minnehaha counties to stay home. The order includes those over 65, as well as those living with pre-existing health conditions like heart conditions or lung disease. Noem said the order focuses on these counties because over half the state's confirmed COVID-19 are in the Sioux Falls area.
In addition, Noem said she is extending her previous executive order regarding COVID-19 through May 31. It was initially issued through May 1.
The order issued guidelines to help South Dakotans mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including implementing social distancing, asking businesses to restrict patrons, and urging health care providers to limit elective surgeries.
Noem also said Monday she is changing the word "should" in the order to "shall" to emphasize the importance of the order.
Dakota News Now asked Noem whether any of these orders carry any sort of legal penalty, to which the governor replied "I will use the authority I have to take the appropriate action at the appropriate time."
Avera Health Vice President of Public Relations Lindsey Meyers issued a statement supporting the governor's announcement, saying "Measures that increase the effectiveness of social distancing and protect our most vulnerable are crucially important at this time to reduce the spread of COVID-19."
The governor said she is recommending all public schools remain closed through the remainder of the school year, saying it "doesn't make sense" for kids to return to school buildings.
The Department of Labor has hired an additional 50-60 people to handle the influx of unemployment benefit requests.
Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen said COVID-19 will have a "devastating" effect on tourism in South Dakota, saying it will be much worse than the aftermath of 9/11.