David Lias

I believe the governor and in the governor.

I believe the governor was right to announce with much fanfare last spring that the state had entered a partnership that included Sanford, Avera and Monument Health to test hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. President Donald Trump was championing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as potential treatments for the coronavirus and that’s a good enough reason.

I believe in our governor, even though Sanford Health discontinued the trials after the publication of new research from a larger controlled trial showed the drug had no efficacy in preventing COVID-19 for people exposed to the virus.

I believe the governor when she recently wrote in her column that children are less likely to contract or spread COVID-19. I believe she was correct to state this even though she wrote this column before school started in August and children had been away from schools since last March. Medical experts seem to side with the governor on this, so I’m glad she’s declared that our kids are safe, even though many of those researchers note that children have so far been less affected by the virus presumably because they had less exposure because of school closures.

A lack of testing early in the pandemic has also made it challenging to determine how many children were actually infected. South Dakota parents are no doubt worried, but I believe in our governor.

I believe the governor was right when she didn’t cancel the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, although holding such a function in the middle of a pandemic seems foolhardy. She proved her critics wrong. Hundreds of thousands of bikers arrived in Sturgis. They have gone home and spread COVID-19 to eight states, as of Aug. 25, but I believe the governor made the right decision.

Those additional COVID-19 cases are now problems that must be faced by other states. Besides, South Dakota, which gained the most from the rally, is suffering the most because its 37 cases outnumber the totals in many of those states combined, if you don’t count Minnesota’s 35 and North Dakota’s 18 (to date as of Aug. 26).

I believe the governor was right when she said on July 3 that we are all watching an organized, coordinated campaign to remove and eliminate all references to our nation’s founding and many other points in our history.

I believe her even though she didn’t offer specific instances of this happening in South Dakota. She also said that many in this nation are trying to wipe away lessons of history that we should be teaching our children and our grandchildren, even though for several years now I’ve taken photos of our young people celebrating local veterans’ military service by singing patriotic songs and reading essays they’ve written themselves.

I believe the governor was right to use Mount Rushmore as a campaign prop for President Trump as he visited South Dakota on July 3. I also don’t believe there was anything exorbitant about the program, despite its use of law enforcement and National Guard and other military resources, and its cost.

We South Dakotans were so focused at first on the fact that the fireworks show above the four faces would cost $350,000 and be paid to an out-of-state fireworks firm that we didn’t stop to think about other expenses.

If we were shocked to learn later that the entire event had a total price tag of $1.5 million, that’s our fault. I believe in our governor when she spent $350,000 in Future Fund dollars for the fireworks alone instead of using that money for grants to such places as a parks and wildlife foundation, an authority that manages the underground science lab in Lead, or local economic development groups.

Plus, it is also right that the remainder of that $1.5 million be paid out of our state tourism fund, even though the economy has slowed and tourism is down because of the pandemic. I believe in our governor.

I believe the governor was right to fly with the president on Air Force One when the Mount Rushmore event was over. I’m sure she used that time to talk to the president only about issues important to us South Dakotans, the people who elected her to office.

I also believe the governor was right to fly to Washington less than three weeks later to meet with Vice President Pence. Word had circulated through the Trump administration that she was ingratiating herself with the president, fueling suspicions that there may have been a discussion about her serving as his running mate in November. The governor reportedly told Mr. Pence that she wanted to help the ticket however she could, but not take his job.

Over a year ago, I heard her tell 2019 Girls State delegates in Vermillion that she believes her first thought every morning should be “what can I do to make South Dakota better for my kids, for my grandkids, for the next generation that’s going to take over.” I believe in the governor and am sure she’s simply friends with the president and didn’t fly with him because she’d rather work for him than us.

I believe the governor was right when she defended not implementing tougher shutdown precautions amidst the pandemic, saying “South Dakota is not New York City.” She’s right – New York City has 27,000 people per square mile and South Dakota has 12 per square mile in overall population density.

I believe she was right when approximately two months after the pandemic hit South Dakota, she announced her “back to normal” plan, stating that the COVID-19 peak in the state would be in mid-June and that her plan and any modeling is based on data driven by science and facts.

I know that the latest data shows that South Dakota’s weekly average for newly reported COVID-19 cases per day as of Aug. 23 was 143, a 54 percent increase from two weeks ago and higher than the worst surges in April and May.

And, I know that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Dakota increased by 149 on Monday, breaking the record for active cases for a third day in a row and that cases in Clay County were, as of Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 176 which is 34 more than last Friday, Aug. 21.

But I’m not worried. I believe in the governor.

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