Gov. Noem says most states’ COVID response was ‘anything but scientific’
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WASHINGTON, March 12, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota contrasted the unique success her state had responding to the coronavirus last year — using “common sense and conservative governing principles” — with the disastrous results of places like New York where so-called “mitigation efforts” have “been anything but scientific.”
Noem began by reminding her audience of the great success Donald Trump had as president, prior to the March 2020 shutdowns, in creating “seven million new American jobs,” with “the lowest unemployment rate in over half a century.”
In response to the spread of COVID-19, “Most governors shut down their states. What followed was record unemployment. Businesses closed. Most schools were shuttered. Communities suffered. And the U.S. economy came to an immediate halt,” she described.
Affirming that such extended and devastating shutdowns were clearly avoidable, Noem was candid: “Let me be clear. COVID didn’t crush the economy. Government crushed the economy.”
To great applause, the governor highlighted how the Mount Rushmore State was different. “For those of you who don’t know, South Dakota is the only state in America that never ordered a single business or church to close,” she said. “We never instituted a shelter-in-place order. We never mandated that people wear masks. We never even defined what an ‘essential business’ is, because I don’t believe governors have the authority to tell you your business is ‘not essential.’”
With regards to her state’s schools, she explained, “From the earliest days of the pandemic, our priority was the students; their well-being; their education. When it was time to go back to school in the fall, we put our kids in the classrooms.”
Noem said, “We never focused on case numbers. Instead, we kept our eye on hospital capacity. Dr. Fauci told me that I would have 10,000 COVID patients in the hospital on our worst day. On our worst day, we had a little over 600.
“I don’t know if you agree, but Fauci is wrong a lot!” she exclaimed to a roar from the crowd. “Even in a pandemic, public health policy needs to take into account people’s economic and social well-being. Daily needs still need to be met. People need to keep a roof over their heads and feed their families. And they still need purpose. They need their dignity.”
“My administration resisted the call for virus control at the expense of everything else. We looked at the science, data, and facts, and then took a balanced approach,” she described.
With a tone of dismay, Noem revealed, “I never thought the decisions I was making were going to be unique. I thought there would be more who would follow basic conservative principles — guess I was wrong.”
In response to such widespread mismanagement, she encouraged the conservative audience, “We have to show people how arbitrary these restrictions are — and the coercion, force, and anti-liberty steps governments take to enforce them. Often, enforcement isn’t based on facts. Justifying these ‘mitigation efforts’ has been anything but scientific.”
Citing the national media attacks she endured due to her COVID-19 response policies, she told the story of appearing on This Week on ABC. Just before Noem came on, host George Stephanopoulos had finished a segment with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo by asking him if he had advice for Noem on how to deal with the pandemic.
Noting the irony, Noem specified Cuomo’s track record of endangering nursing home residents with various executive orders and political initiatives helping facilitate the deaths of thousands.
“And on January 28 of this year,” Noem said, “the New York Attorney General announced that Cuomo and his administration significantly undercounted the number of COVID-related deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent. To make matters worse, they tried to cover it up.”
“That’s the media’s COVID hero. By the way, he also earned an Emmy and he wrote a book on his COVID response. So, who really needed the advice?” Noem asked.
“Again, in South Dakota we did things differently. We applied common-sense and conservative governing principles. We never exceeded our hospital capacity. And our economy is booming. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation,” she said to great applause.
“We are number one in the nation for keeping jobs, keeping businesses open and keeping money in the pockets of our people. The people of South Dakota kept their hours and wages at a higher rate than workers anywhere else in the nation. And, our schools are open!” she emphasized.
Noem recalled how the foundational limits to government power are established in both our national and state constitutions. “Those limits are essential to preventing government officials from trampling on people’s rights.”
“The people themselves are primarily responsible for their own health and wellbeing. They are the ones entrusted with expansive freedoms — free to exercise their rights to work, worship, and earn a living.”
“No governor should dictate to their people which activities are officially approved or not. And no governor should arrest, ticket, or fine people for exercising their freedoms,” she said to the great satisfaction of the crowd. “Governors — and members of Congress and the president — have a duty to respect the rights of the people who elected them.”
Reflecting on 2020, the former South Dakota Snow Queen said COVID, along with the Marxist Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, “certainly showed us how deep the divide [in our country] really is, and how thin the barrier is between freedom and tyranny.”
“To attempt to ‘cancel’ the founding generation [of our nation] is an to attempt to cancel our own freedoms,” she said.
In addition, Noem observed, the “pandemic illustrated that many politicians have a totally different vision for government than what the Founders laid out. It was once said, ‘The left takes its vision seriously — more seriously than it takes the rights of other people. They want to be our shepherds but that requires us to be sheep.’”
“Let it be heard loud and clear from us right now,” she said. “We will not be sheep!”