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South Dakota’s $1.25 billion will go to cities, counties and mass testing, Noem says
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South Dakota’s $1.25 billion will go to cities, counties and mass testing, Noem says

Noem Presser Monument Health 20200318

Gov. Kristi Noem

Gov. Kristi Noem said she’s had calls with all the mayors and county officials in the state to walk through the $1.25 billion in federal funding the state received weeks ago.

Noem said the guidance from the Department of Treasury says the state could use it on its own, but Noem has decided to allocate some funding to cities and counties and asks them to track any reimbursable expenses related to their COVID-19 response.

Noem said some of those expenses include personal protective equipment, testing supplies, mitigation measures like barriers, EMS response services, telemedicine or telecommuting costs, and any proactive measures such as bringing people back to work with mitigation measures.

She said there will be follow-up with county auditors and city finance officers on their spending.

Noem also said the state can’t use any of the funds for revenue loss, but she will continue talking to Congress and the White House on “how important it is to get that flexibility” in the coming days.

When asked if any of the federal funding was supposed to go directly to tribes, Noem said they have separate funding from the federal government and that the guidance from Treasury is clear that it should go to the state of South Dakota.

Any costs related to education, such as WiFi or laptops for students taking classes remotely, is handled through separate funds from the Department of Education, Noem said. Both K-12 education and higher education are eligible for separate CARES Act funding.

The cost of mass testing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities will also be covered by that $1.25 billion, said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, state health secretary.

Malsam-Rysdon laid out a plan last week for mass testing of all the long-term care facilities in the state over the next four weeks and said Tuesday that nursing homes have to determine how they want to carry out the mass testing.

“Nursing homes have to have staff on site that can do the specimen collection,” Malsam-Rysdon said. Second, nursing homes will have to determine “what laboratory they plan to use. If they do not have a laboratory in mind or (don’t) have arrangements with a laboratory already, we have an out-of-state commercial laboratory that’s available to them to process the testing.”

Noem also said Tuesday that she had a conference call with President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and Vice President Pence to talk about children and their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noem said the state Department of Social Services alone received $9 million in separate CARES Act funding to support child care programs for families and providers.

“Many providers have seen their earnings decline due to changes in employment and school closures, which led to more kids being absent from their programs,” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. “We understand the struggles providers are facing and will disperse the funds as quickly as possible.”

Payments to providers will be based on program size, efforts made to assist families and account for children absent from program attendance. Providers will receive an email with the application for funding and will have 30 days to apply.

President Trump said Monday that he is taking hydroxychloroquine despite FDA warnings about its use outside of hospital clinical trials. 

South Dakota is running its own clinical trials for the drug, and when asked if Noem would take it herself if she was exposed to COVID-19, she said everybody should work with their doctor to decide if the drug is right for them.

“That’s usually an individual decision somebody makes with their doctor,” she said.

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