Noem met and spoke with the media about the rally and charity auction. She also outlined her approach to the pandemic, which has allowed mass gatherings like Sturgis to go on without COVID-19 prevention requirements such as vaccinations, testing and/or masking.
“It really comes down to what my authority is. I don’t believe that governors have the authority to tell people that they have to shut down their business, that they have to shelter in place and then to place mandates on that should be used for personal responsibility,” Noem said. “When leaders overstep their authority, especially in a time of crisis, that’s really when we break this country. So I wish every governor would have followed my approach.”
Noem said her approach worked because the economy is doing well and schools mostly stayed open. She also pointed to the fact that South Dakota was only one of two states where drug overdoses decreased in 2020.
The governor cited suicide rates as well. South Dakota and the rest of the country did not see an increase in suicides last year like many expected. But South Dakota is set to see a record high this year.
“Our mental health issues have gone down,” Noem said. “Overall, I think our people have dealt with this pandemic in different ways. Our kids have been in the classroom learning and our businesses have stayed open, and we’ve got historic revenue coming into the state because people are out there enjoying and participating in restaurants and shopping and their business is doing well.”