South Dakota's governor defends coronavirus strategy following Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Health officials previously attributed increases in COVID-19 cases to several factors, including the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.


Facing the nation's second-most coronavirus cases per capita over the last two weeks, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem defended her strategy on Wednesday as a “balanced approach” that has kept the state's economy humming.

The Republican governor has disparaged restrictions to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, emphasizing personal responsibility. Over the last two weeks, South Dakota ranked second in the country for new cases per capita. The rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 84 in that time, an increase of about 56%, according to Johns Hopkins researchers.

Health officials previously attributed increases in COVID-19 cases to summer gatherings, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and students returning to college campuses and school classrooms.

But in a Wednesday Fox News appearance, Noem turned attention to the pandemic's economic impacts.

“There’s consequences to what we’ve seen happen in other states — that shutting down businesses, stopping people’s way of life has some devastating impacts," Noem said. “We’re taking a very balanced approach.”

Video: Sturgis, South Dakota, resident talks about COVID-19 cases, motorcycle rally

She highlighted that the state's tax revenues have been better than expected, with 8.7% more money coming in this fiscal year than projected.

South Dakota health officials reported 168 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, but active infections statewide decreased as people recovered. The number of active infections decreased to 2,434, but the number of people needing hospital care increased to 76. No new deaths were reported.

Hearst TV contributed to this report.