Noem Issues Order Asking, Not Requiring, Businesses To Make COVID-19 Changes

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has issued an executive order asking – but not requiring – businesses to restrict some of the ways they operate in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Those moves include having restaurants closing dining areas and limiting service to takeout, asking hospitals to put off elective surgeries, and having businesses limit gatherings to 10 people or less.

Noem has said her powers to enforce such actions are limited, seen as the reason they weren’t required, but some South Dakota mayors want her to take more aggressive action.

Limited testing means the state doesn’t have a good idea of how many South Dakotas may have coronavirus/COVID-19, but that may be changing.

The state’s two largest healthcare systems, Sanford Health and Avera, say they will begin processing coronavirus tests after receiving regulatory approval.

Avera Health says it has the capacity to handle about 200 tests daily while Sanford Health says it will initially process about 400 tests daily with plans to double that number in the coming weeks. .

The state health lab halted testing for several days last week after running out of test supplies, then began testing for only high-priority cases after receiving more supplies. The state’s now waiting for about 700 tests sent to out-of-state commercial labs.

Gov. Noem told a news conference Sunday to brace for widespread infections in the coming months that could eventually see as much as 30% of the state’s population test positive.

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