Containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus

By Governor Kristi Noem With the COVID-19 situation continuing to be very fl uid in South Dakota, it is important that we all remain diligent and wise in the coming days. Common sense steps – that we all can take – should help us manage the virus’ spread. Epidemiologists refer to this as “fl attening the curve.” What that means is with social distancing (avoiding large gatherings) we should be able to slow the spread of the virus and avoid a spike in the number of people getting sick. If that happens, we should be able to avoid overwhelming the hospital systems, which is a top priority.

My team and the department of health have been preparing for COVID-19 since January. We have the right people in place to manage this situation. Our task force is coordinating state and local efforts. We are in constant communication with healthcare providers across the state. We are working closely with federal offi cials at the White House and at the CDC to make sure we have the resources we need. And we are providing daily updates to all South Dakotans on COVID.SD.GOV.

To date, we have received some encouraging news about the limited spread of the virus, but more can be done to continue to bend the curve.

I have issued an executive order to allow non-essential state employees to work remotely for a week. I am encouraging all employers across the state to be fl exible with their teams as well. I have asked all K-12 schools to close for one week, so that schools and facilities can be cleaned. I also asked that state basketball tournaments and other extracurricular activities and events be postponed.

I have asked the Department of Health to direct all nursing homes and other facilities to restrict visitors and take other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus to the most vulnerable population. The Chief Justice has issued an emergency judicial order that will allow circuit courts to take necessary action to protect vulnerable people and prevent the spread of the virus.

Also, I have signed a State of Emergency Order, which will allow us to take advantage of all state and federal resources. The Department of Health and other agencies will be seeking and accepting all available funding or resources to aid in our response.

It is easy to overreact to situations like this – a new virus that spreads rapidly across the globe is alarming and represents a great unknown. We should not downplay the risks to vulnerable populations, and we can all be smart about practicing sound hygiene. We are confi dent, however, in the measures we are taking at the state and national level to manage the spread of the virus, and we are encouraged by the overall low rate of serious infection thus far. Together, we can fl atten the curve and avoid a serious public health crisis.

To learn more about ways you can protect yourself and the people around you, visit COVID.SD.GOV or call 1-800-997-2880.