Kristi Noem’s interview on Face the Nation didn’t go well

South Dakota Governor and rising conservative star Kristi Noem was a huge hit at CPAC on Saturday, where she bragged about her state’s response to the coronavirus during a headlining speech. But an interview he did hours later with CBS highlighted how his attempt to change reality does not survive scrutiny.

In reality, South Dakota’s laissez faire approach to the pandemic, including Noem’s refusal to enforce a mask mandate, has amounted to “a failed experiment in herd immunity,” as Bloomberg recently put it. The state has one of the 10 highest death rates in the United States. More than 1 in 500 residents have died since the pandemic began. And how Face the nation Host Margaret Brennan noted during the CBS interview that South Dakota’s death rate has been the highest in the country since last July.

Noting that the governor is a staunch conservative, Brennan pressed Noem to explain how someone who claims to care about the sanctity of life can “justify making decisions that put the health of their constituents at risk.” His answer was nonsense nonsense.

“Those are questions that should also be asked of all the other governors of this country,” he said, although the point of the question is that the response to South Dakota’s Covid-19 has been a failure, and much more limited, by comparison. . to the vast majority of other states.

Perhaps most egregious is that Noem encouraged people to come to her state last August for the Sturgis motorcycle rally, despite the terrible pandemic.

Public health experts said holding the rally, which eventually drew nearly 500,000 people, was a very bad idea. And at least one study has confirmed it: A study from the San Diego State University Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies found that not only could it have infected hundreds of thousands of people with the virus, but it will potentially involve more than $ 12 billion. in health care costs.

When asked about Brennan’s San Diego study, Noem indicated that she values ​​allowing “people to make decisions for themselves” above all else.

“Listen, what we did was allow people to make decisions for themselves,” he said. “We gave them all the information about this virus, how to protect their health, and then we allowed them to make decisions to make decisions about what they would do.”

“My question is if we had ordered that people have to stay at home, if we had ordered that companies had to close, would that have made a difference?” Noem continued. “I’d say I wouldn’t have.”

However, as Brennan pointed out, Noem’s position is not supported by facts. In addition to the aforementioned San Diego study linking Sturgis to many thousands of cases, President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx recently described Noem’s decision to allow Sturgis as “not okay.” And as the Washington Post reports, health experts believe the rally may have seeded coronavirus cases in the Midwest, contributing to the surge in cases nationwide last fall.

Noem’s response to the coronavirus has even been criticized by Republicans such as West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who responded to critics of his mask mandate last November by saying, “I don’t want to be South Dakota.” Brennan asked Noem about Justice’s comment, but instead of committing to him, Noem immediately focused on attacking blue state governors like Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom, who have faced questions about their response to Covid-19. .

In short, Noem’s CBS interview didn’t go well for her. But Margaret Brennan is not the Republican base, and if Noem’s CPAC reception is any indication, Republican primary voters really see Noem’s response to the coronavirus as a success.

Noem’s CPAC speech illustrated how little conservatives have learned about the coronavirus

“Let me be clear: Covid did not crush the economy, the government crushed the economy,” Noem stated at CPAC on Saturday, before directly attacking trusted public health experts.

“Dr. Fauci is very wrong,” he added to loud applause.

Noem’s position that personal freedoms are more important than public health appears to be the consensus opinion at CPAC. This was illustrated by a remarkable scene on Friday in which conference organizers had to beg attendees to follow hotel rules and wear a mask on the premises to boo and shout “freedom!”

Noem doesn’t like masks very much. Earlier this month, she was widely criticized for tweeting photos of her posing without a mask with a group of legislative pages during a dinner at the governor’s mansion (all but one page of the photo was unmasked).

At the very least, the photo set a bad example for its constituents, especially considering that it has left them to decide whether or not they should wear masks. But in these polarized times, what seems like a bad example to scientists seems like a heroic example of Republicans owning libraries.

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