COVID-19 situation saddening

Letter to the editor

We are saddened to witness the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in SD accompanied by more hospitalizations and deaths.

The increase is so substantial that our state is now included among the states with the highest percent of COVID-19 tests testing positive, highest percent of cases per 100,000 population and alarming percent increases in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths.

While the S.D. raw numbers are small in comparison to the numbers of high population states, the numbers are alarming for a state of 900,000 inhabitants.

The director of the Center for Communicable Disease and Prevention recently testified before the U.S. House that the single most important thing we can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to wear an approved facial mask. He even ventured that it may be more important than a COVID-19 vaccine.

Yet, President Trump and Governor Noem continue to question the effectiveness of masks. Their skepticism is without scientific foundation but plays well to an audience of vocal supporters.

Governor Noem’s resistance to face masks appears to have influenced the content of COVID-SD public service announcements aired under the banner of the S.D. Department of Health. While the PSAs do encourage hand hygiene, social distancing and avoiding crowds (all good guidance), there is no mention of the vital importance of wearing a facial mask while associating with others outside your immediate household.

Interestingly, the COVID.SD website includes CDC inserts which emphasize the importance of facial masks in reducing community spread but the same guidance has been omitted from COVID.SD PSAs.

Apparently, Governor Noem’s opinion weighs more heavily with our Department of Health leadership than the scientific conclusion of our nation’s leading epidemiologists.