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Noem refuses banning evictions, utility shutoffs; rejects shelter-in-place request

Noem Presser Monument Health 20200318

Gov. Kristi Noem

Gov. Kristi Noem said Tuesday she would not consider banning evictions or utility shutoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This news comes after a McLaughlin family had their utilities shut off last week, making it more difficult for them to maintain good hygiene and hand-washing during the pandemic.

Noem also repeated Tuesday afternoon that she won’t issue a statewide shelter-in-place order and won’t issue one for the Sioux Falls area after Mayor Paul TenHaken urged her to issue such an order on Tuesday morning.

Noem said a shelter-in-place order would not have impacted Smithfield Foods, a Sioux Falls meatpacking plant where 438 employees have COVID-19, and 107 of those employees’ “contacts” were announced as COVID-19 cases Tuesday.

“I’ve seen some national stories written that a shelter-in-place would have prevented this outbreak at Smithfield. That is absolutely false. It is not true,” Noem said at her daily news briefing, noting that regardless of an order, the plant “would have been up and running.”

“It is exempted as an essential business part of our critical infrastructure plan to make sure we can put food on the table for Americans and people across the world,” she added.

She also said the shelter-in-place for Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, which contain the Sioux Falls’ metro area, would not be appropriate “considering the data and the facts and the science we have.”

Noem previously issued an executive order for Minnehaha and Lincoln counties on April 6 to those 65 and older and those at the highest risk for contracting COVID-19 to stay home for three weeks.

TenHaken also asked Noem to set up an isolation camp in Sioux Falls to hold 7,000 people at the city’s civic center or convention center with a National Guard presence.

Noem refused that request and said people with COVID-19 are supposed to self-isolate at home to monitor their symptoms and to minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others.

Noem said those who can’t self-isolate at home or choose to isolate somewhere else can stay in hotel rooms provided by the state Department of Health for their isolation period.

“Not somewhere like a camp in a convention center with 7,000 other people,” Noem added.

The CDC recommends 14 days of self-isolation to monitor one’s exposure, and recommends maintaining a normal temperature for three days without fever-reducing medication before leaving the self-quarantine.

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