"The people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety," Noem said. "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."Famous last words? I am not a doctor, a governor or even an epidemiologist. But I think she is making a big mistake. They seem very ill prepared. The state health lab already ran out of test kits last week. Read this article, Virus spreads through South Dakota family's close ties. And consider the point made by the experts in this story. Rural populations may even be more at risk. Something about reading this struck me.There may be less people in rural America but they have a history of heavily relying on each other. And that could prove to be a real problem with this pandemic.
"Our sense of personal responsibility, our resiliency and our already sparse population density put us in a great position," she said, "to manage the spread of this virus without needing to resort to some of the measures that we've seen in some of these major cities, coastal cities and in other countries."
Gov. Kristi Noem on Wednesday said the state's sparse population would slow the spread of the virus, factoring into her plans to not issue stay-at-home orders and instead to rely on voluntary compliance with recommendations to halt group gatherings. But Caterina Scoglio, a professor at Kansas State University who studies how viruses spread through rural communities, said small towns can have unique vulnerabilities that cities don't have.“In rural areas, there are normally fewer contacts with people but those contacts are based on strong ties,” she said.That's why health care workers in South Dakota are emphasizing that family members should help each other by staying apart. It's counterintuitive for some people, said Misty Rudebusch, a physician's assistant who runs a clinic in the town of Howard.“We have generations of families that make those communities," she said. “Everyone learns to rely on their neighbor.”I hope that these people don't learn the hard way. But they just don't seem to get it.