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article imageNorth and South Dakota lead nation in growth of COVID-19

By Karen Graham     Sep 12, 2020 in Health
Coronavirus infections in the Dakotas are growing faster than anywhere else in the nation, fueling impassioned debates over masks and personal freedom after months in which the two states avoided the worst of the pandemic.
The arguments over wearing protective face masks is still going on around the nation, despite the fact that there are 6,357,140 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Saturday, along with 193,215 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Also, according to Johns Hopkins University data, North and South Dakota lead the nation in new cases of the coronavirus, per capita, over the last two weeks, ranking first and second respectively.
The two states have also posted the highest positivity rates for COVID-19 tests in the country, according to the Associated Press, with North Dakpta having nearly 22 percent positivity rates, meaning there are more infections than tests are catching.
Daily confirmed new cases for North Dakota
Daily confirmed new cases for North Dakota
Johns Hopkins University
The high number of infections has been fueled by mass gatherings with no social distancing or the wearing of masks, and the reopening of colleges and universities. Additionally, the governors of both states are Republican, and tapping into President Donald Trump's initiative to get the economy going again, have steered clear of imposing any measures that would stem the growth of coronavirus cases.
“It is not a surprise that South Dakota has one of the highest (COVID-19) reproduction rates in the country,” Brookings City Council member Nick Wendell said as he commented on the many people who forgo masks in public.
The Dakota's weren't a hot spot for coronavirus cases until recently. They actually sat back and watched as the rest of the country was hit by the raging pandemic. But spiking infection rates have fanned out across the nation, from the East Coast to the Sun Belt and now into the Midwest, where states like Iowa and Kansas are also dealing with surges.
Daily confirmed new cases for South Dakota
Daily confirmed new cases for South Dakota
Johns Hopkins University
When case counts were low during the spring and early summer, people grew weary of constantly taking precautions, said Dr. Benjamin Aaker, president of the South Dakota State Medical Association. “People have a tendency to become complacent,” he said. “Then they start to relax the things that they were doing properly, and that’s when the increase in cases starts to go up."
Never the less, it still comes back to the face masks in these two states. As a matter of interest, Brookings, South Dakota, may be the only municipality with an order requiring the wearing of masks in the Dakotas outside of Native American reservations - that's how controversial the subject is.
South Dakota's use of federal funds
CBS News is reporting that South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem's administration announced on Tuesday this past week that it is using federal coronavirus relief funds to pay for a $5 million tourism ad campaign aimed at drawing people to the state. Remember, this is one of two states with the highest number of new cases of coronavirus in the country.
The 30-second spot was featured on Fox News alongside Noem's speech at the Republican National Convention last month, features the governor saying that "with our breathtaking landscapes and wide-open spaces, we're a place to safely explore." But the state currently ranks second in the country for new cases per capita over the last two weeks, with 439 new cases per 100,000 people.
The money for the ad comes out of the $1.25 billion the state received from the federal government to address the coronavirus crisis. The U.S. Treasury Department is allowing states to use the money to publicize when tourism activities resume and ensure visitors' safety.
Noem spokesman Ian Fury said the line in the ad that touts the state as a "place to safely explore" fulfills Treasury's requirement for using the money to address the pandemic.
More about Covid19, North dakota, South Dakota, face masks, coronavirus relief funds
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