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Noem Attends Sturgis Charity Ride, Defends COVID-19 Approach

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Governor Noem's Office

Governor Kristi Noem attended a charity ride and auction at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that raised $149,000 before defending her overall approach to the pandemic and holding the motorcycle rally as the Delta variant spreads across the country.  

Noem arrived to Deadwood on horseback Monday to help auction off several items, including a painting of her riding a horse that sold for $55,000 at the Legends Ride Auction.  

The governor then swapped her horse for a shiny, blue Indian motorcycle and made her way to the massive Buffalo Chip campground near Sturgis. It was her first time participating in a rally ride.  

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.”