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Posts tagged ‘lockdown’

Church Leaders Who Cancel Christmas Services Are Clinging To Government Lies, Not Christ


Church Leaders Who Cancel Christmas Services Are Clinging To Government Lies, Not Christ

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Wednesday against discriminatory targeting of religious groups with COVID-19 restrictions marked a significant victory in the ongoing battle to preserve religious liberty. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, hostile stakeholders in public office have assaulted the first freedom through superciliously labeling religious services “nonessential.” Christians in much of the country now find themselves in the demeaning and intolerable position of being allowed to worship only in the manner and on terms dictated by politically motivated governors.

Respecting authorities’ claims about an unknown disease made sense early in the outbreak, but now after better scientific information shows many initial fears are false. Yet politicians refuse to come clean while ignoring their own rules forbidding us from fulfilling our Christian duties. So it is time for us once again to assert that church is the most essential activity, period. Instead of valiantly fighting in the vanguard, however, many religious leaders have quickly retreated.

It is one thing for a church leader to prayerfully consider the individual needs of his church, striving to maintain unity among members in disagreements, protecting the health of the vulnerable, and offering stability amid uncertainty. It is quite another for shepherds to forsake the assembling of their flocks and enable the propaganda that congregating freely to worship God is selfish and “could kill grandma.” This unbiblical stance also overlooks the hypocrites in public office and the media who don’t even play by their own silly rules and ignore the data, for much lesser purposes than the health of our souls.

Many such religious leaders are neglecting the soul-saving mission of the church. The notion that being a good Christian requires indefinite cessation of communal worship — and for Catholics, the suspension of the sacraments — to prevent the spread of illness is a falsehood that has confused the faithful and undermined religious freedom.

Supreme Court Upholds Religious Liberty

In the case brought by the Orthodox Jewish group Agudath Israel of America and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Supreme Court held that “the restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.” In a concurring opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch posed a pertinent rhetorical question: “Who knew that public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?”

Gorsuch held that “the only explanation for treating religious places differently seems to be a judgment that what happens there just isn’t as ‘essential’ as what happens in secular spaces.” He warned that “in too many places, for far too long, our first freedom has fallen on deaf ears.”

For several months now, elected officials and many church leaders around the country have flagrantly ignored religious liberty. States such as California, Oregon, and Washington have witnessed a new wave of post-election crackdowns on religious services. In San Diego County, churches are currently prohibited from holding indoor services. Meanwhile, a San Diego court just issued a temporary order exempting coronavirus restrictions from applying to a strip club, ruling that such entertainment constitutes “constitutionally protected speech.”

In Oregon, new restrictions limit faith-based gatherings to a maximum of 25 people regardless of church size but allow businesses to continue operating at a reduced percentage of their total capacity. Archbishop of Portland Alexander Sample rightly argued that allowing a measly 25 worshipers in a cathedral that can seat 1,000 isn’t data-driven and doesn’t make sense.

The Church Is Essential

expressed concern back in May about politicians labeling religious services “nonessential” and allowing the state to determine on what terms churches can hold services. At that time, Washington bishops effectively thumbed their noses at President Trump for declaring that state governments should allow houses of worship to reopen.

The bishops instead hitched their wagon to Gov. Jay Inslee’s rogue horse. Hence six months down the road, Inslee again targeted Washington churches as part of his latest round of arbitrary fiats. Church capacity is reduced to 25 percent, and congregational and choral singing is prohibited.

Meanwhile, the very authorities who tut-tut and wag fingers clearly don’t adhere to or believe in the merits of their own nonsense rules. Sanctimonious public officeholders have lectured us about keeping business closed, taking unemployment on the chin, staying home, and wearing masks while they visit salons, attend private dinners, and jet off out of state for holidays with family. The duplicity of notorious mask shamers such as CNN’s Chris Cuomo and White House correspondents Kaitlan Collins and Jonathan Karl has similarly been on display.

The hypocrisy is not limited to the secular sphere. Pope Francis condemned peaceful lockdown protests despite the World Health Organization’s warning against using lockdowns as the primary means of controlling the virus. Francis believes that closing churches, businesses, and schools, and forcing people out of work are all “necessary for people’s protection.” He has even canceled public celebration of Christmas liturgies at the Vatican.

Yet Francis didn’t appear particularly worried about Wuhan virus transmission when, free from any semblance of social distancing and masks, he enjoyed a cozy chat about poverty and social justice with a group of handsomely paid NBA players and fellow pals of the Chinese Communist Party. Evidently, on protecting the freedom to assemble, to provide for one’s family, and even to freely worship, government-imposed restrictions are non-negotiable, but when it’s about racial and economic politics, the holy grail of neo-Marxists, lockdowns are a suggestion only.

Against this backdrop, Christians should be prepared for the usual suspects in public office and the press, facilitated by an array of religious leaders, to crack down on Christmas celebrations. We will no doubt hear more of the “we do this not out of fear but out of love” mantra. Given, however, that the survival rate is 94.6 percent for those 70 years and older and between 99.5-99.997 percent for those 69 and younger, rapid breakthroughs in therapeutics have been announced, three reportedly effective vaccines are on the way, and government authorities are flouting their own restrictions, the “love thy neighbor” lecture is becoming as tedious as it is false.

Christians Need Church to Obey God’s Commands

The Gospels tell us the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. We cannot fulfill the second greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves if that love is not solidly founded in an encounter with God. This means gathering with the faithful in sung praise and thanksgiving, as we read in Psalms and was the custom from the earliest church, as well as explicitly commanded in scripture.

The Greek word for church, “ekklesia,” comes from the Old Testament and originally referred to the assembly of the people of Israel. When St. Paul first used the term, he intended it as the new community of believers in Christ. This “ekklesia” is not a human association borne of common interests and beliefs but a summoning by God himself.

For Catholics, the encounter with God is achieved even more profoundly through the sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus is literally and wholly present — body and blood, soul and divinity — under the appearances of consecrated bread and wine. Whatever way you look at it, religious services are essential, and church leaders should say so.

Religious leaders must get their priorities straight. No doubt, pastors are genuinely concerned for the health of the most vulnerable in their communities and trying to accommodate the confusion and fears of their congregants. Some must feel their hands are tied by unsupportive leadership. Still others, I suspect, find themselves effectively cornered by congregants whose political indoctrination runs deeper than their catechesis.

Nevertheless, the role of preachers is to win souls for Christ, not to protect us or themselves from physical infirmity. St. Paul urges a return to God through Christ and cautions against domination by earthly pleasures and preoccupations. In other words, if, as St. Ambrose of Milan taught, we have a wound to heal, Christ is the doctor; if we are parched by fever, he is the spring; if we fear death, he is life; and if we are in darkness, he is light.

After a dismal year, and in sober anticipation of Joe Biden’s threatened “dark winter,” it is more important than ever for Christians to unite in praise of the Light that shines in the darkness and which the darkness has never put out. We should demand that our religious leaders mark the Nativity with fitting pomp and ceremony and refuse to support churches whose pastors spread or cower behind the lie that the celebration of Christmas is nonessential.

ABOUT TYHE AUTHOR:
Carina Benton is a native Australian living in Washington state. She is a practicing Catholic and has taught for many years in Catholic and Christian schools. She is a mother of two young children.
Photo Pikist

‘Who Do You Think You Are, God?’: Tucker Carlson Calls Gov. Cuomo ‘Stupid Governor’ Over Threat To Close Religious Services


Reported by DAVID KRAYDEN | OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF | October 06, 20209:31 AM ET

URL of the originating web site: https://www.conservativereview.com/who-do-you-think-you-are-god-tucker-carlson-calls-gov-cuomo-stupid-governor-over-threat-to-close-religious-services-2648115541.html/

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a “stupid governor” and is violating the First Amendment for his threat to close down religious services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carlson asked if Cuomo believed he was “God” during “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and demanded to know the “science behind” the threat.

“The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, decided to approve the closure of many nonessential businesses. That’s not because he’s opposed to lockdowns, he thinks the real problem is religious services.” 

(RELATED: Chris Cuomo Has Yet To Ask Andrew Cuomo About New York Nursing Home Deaths. Here Are 9 Questions He Asked Instead)

Carlson showed a clip of Cuomo saying, “If the religious leaders do not agree to abide by these rules then we will close the religious institutions — period.”

“Really?” Carlson asked. “Because in the country that we lived in in January, we had a First Amendment that said government will not get in the way of your exercise of your religion. People would have laughed at that. ‘We will close the religious institutions — period?’ Who do you think you are: God? You’re not: you’re some stupid governor of a declining state.”

Carlson noted that Cuomo is targeting services in Orthodox Jewish communities. They haven’t been playing along, to their great credit. Putting aside whether any of that is legal, what is the science behind it — the reported ‘science’ behind it?

Critics of Cuomo say that he should not have forced state nursing homes to take in 4,500 patients with COVID-19 earlier in the pandemic, as the Associated Press reported.

Cuomo issued the order to nursing homes and other assisted living centers March 25, according to the AP. He reversed that policy May 11. A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation also discovered that New York undercounted the number of deaths in nursing homes.

But the governor has blamed President Donald Trump for the nursing home deaths, suggesting he was following federal government guidelines on where to send nursing home residents infected with the virus. (RELATED: Andrew Cuomo Says He’s Through With Coronavirus Predictions)

The Fox News host said that de Blasio is not always so concerned about social distancing and lockdowns.

“What’s interesting is that just the other day, practically, Bill de Blasio said he wasn’t against mask gatherings as long as he agreed with the politics people were expressing,” Carlson continued.

Nolte: Politico Admits Democrats ‘Dread’ Fast Economic Rebound


Reported by JOHN NOLTE | 

URL of the originating web site: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/05/26/nolte-politico-admits-democrats-dread-fast-economic-rebound/spencer-davis-yqXH4v6UTJA-unsplash

Spencer Davis / Unsplash

Thanks to these lockdowns, some 40 million people are unemployed, some 40 million lives have been shattered; lines at food pantries seem to go on forever; countless small businesses are in danger of closing or already have… Nevertheless, what America’s oh-so compassionate Democrats dread most is a quick economic rebound that might undermine their grasping desire to hold on to and obtain power.

“The general election scenario that Democrats are dreading,” the Politico headline reads.

 And what is that scenario?

“We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country,” a former economic adviser to Barack Obama told a bunch of bigwigs from both parties last month.

His name is Jason Furman and Politico says he “laid out a detailed case for why the months preceding the November election could offer Trump the chance to brag — truthfully — about the most explosive monthly employment numbers and GDP growth ever.”

Furman’s counterintuitive pitch has caused some Democrats, especially Obama alumni, around Washington to panic. “This is my big worry,” said a former Obama White House official who is still close to the former president. Asked about the level of concern among top party officials, he said, “It’s high — high, high, high, high.”

And top policy officials on the Biden campaign are preparing for a fall economic debate that might look very different than the one predicted at the start of the pandemic in March. “They are very much aware of this,” said an informal adviser.

What Furman already sees are signs of what’s known as a “V” recovery, as a opposed to a slower or gradual  recovery,  or a recovery that takes a while to get back to where we were before these stupid lockdowns began. Furman sees an economy that’s already unleashed.

Consumption and hiring started to tick up “in gross terms, not in net terms,” Furman said, describing the phenomenon as a “partial rebound.” The bounce back “can be very very fast, because people go back to their original job, they get called back from furlough, you put the lights back on in your business. Given how many people were furloughed and how many businesses were closed you can get a big jump out of that. It will look like a V.”

Furman’s argument is not that different from the one made by White House economic advisers and Trump, who have predicted an explosive third quarter, and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who said in late April that “the hope is that by July the country’s really rocking again.”

White House officials were thrilled to hear that some of their views have been endorsed by prominent Democrats.

While no one expects the second quarter numbers — the numbers that will tell us the GDP between April 1 and June 30 — to be anything but terrible, if we can come to our senses nationwide and get these absurd lockdowns behind us, the third quarter numbers (that will be released at the end of September) could show real growth. This would be good for the incumbent president, especially since that incumbent president has been predicting a “pent up” desire within the American people to get back to normal.

Good news for America and Americans would, of course, be terrible news for Joe Biden, who is desperate to strangle our economy with record high taxes and an obscene amount of regulations. Biden’s policies would hurt a flourishing economy, but they would kill a post-lockdown recovery in the same way the Obama-Biden economic policies of 2009 killed any hope of a real rebound after the 2008 economic crash. It’s no accident the Obama-Biden administration oversaw the worst “recovery” since the Great Depression. Their taxes, regulations, and constant threats of more kept a boot firmly on the neck of our economy for eight long years.

Plus, no matter how much Biden might crybaby about Trump’s Twitter account, his golf game, and his violation of the establishment’s “precious norms,” the American people tend not to fire a president when the economy is humming — especially if we are coming out of a downturn.

But what does it say about Democrats that with nearly 40 million lives shattered, they “dread” a fast comeback for those 40 million people?

Obviously, that’s a rhetorical question, but it does answer the question as to why — and for no valid scientific or medical reasons, a number of mercenary Democrat governors are desperate to push these pointless lockdowns as far into next month as possible (especially in swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania).

It is all about doing whatever damage they can to those third quarter GDP numbers; even if that means more pain for those who cannot work from home — primarily the working class.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNCFollow his Facebook Page here.

Today’s THREE Politically INCORRECT Cartoons by A.F. Branco


A.F. Branco Cartoon – Corn Pop Music

There’s Pop Music and then there’s Corn Pop Music by Joe Biden with “you Ain’t Black” if you don’t vote for him.

Biben, You Ain’t BlackPolitical cartoon by A.F. Branco ©2020.
Donations/Tips accepted and appreciated –  $1.00 – $5.00 – $25.00 – $50.00 – $100 –  it all helps to fund this website and keep the cartoons coming. – THANK YOU!

A.F. Branco has taken his two greatest passions, (art and politics) and translated them into the cartoons that have been popular all over the country, in various news outlets including “Fox News”, MSNBC, CBS, ABC and “The Washington Post.” He has been recognized by such personalities as Dinesh D’Souza, James Woods, Sarah Palin, Larry Elder, Lars Larson, Rush Limbaugh, and has had his toons tweeted by President Trump.

Stanford Doctors Calls for Ending Full-Blown Lockdowns


Reported by   | April 23, 2020

A doctor from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution is calling for the end of the current lockdown procedures taking place across America in response to the Wuhan virus outbreak.

Scott W. Atlas, is the David and Joan Traitel Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center, believes that “Leaders must examine accumulated data to see what has actually happened, rather than keep emphasizing hypothetical projections; combine that empirical evidence with fundamental principles of biology established for decades; and then thoughtfully restore the country to function.”

Atlas highlighted five key facts that “are being ignored by those calling for continuing the near-total lockdown.”

Fact 1: The overwhelming majority of people do not have any significant risk of dying from COVID-19.

According to a recent Stanford University antibody study, the fatality rate of the infected is likely 0.1 to 0.2 percent. These numbers are far lower than past World Health Organization estimates that were 20 to 30 times higher and that spurred draconian lockdowns.

Atlas highlighted the case of New York City:

In New York City, an epicenter of the pandemic with more than one-third of all U.S. deaths, the rate of death for people 18 to 45 years old is 0.01 percent, or 11 per 100,000 in the population. On the other hand, people aged 75 and over have a death rate 80 times that. For people under 18 years old, the rate of death is zero per 100,000.

Of all fatal cases in New York state, two-thirds were in patients over 70 years of age; more than 95 percent were over 50 years of age; and about 90 percent of all fatal cases had an underlying illness. Of 6,570 confirmed COVID-19 deaths fully investigated for underlying conditions to date, 6,520, or 99.2 percent, had an underlying illness. If you do not already have an underlying chronic condition, your chances of dying are small, regardless of age. And young adults and children in normal health have almost no risk of any serious illness from COVID-19.

Fact 2: Protecting older, at-risk people eliminates hospital overcrowding.

According to hospital utilization data from New York City, individuals under the age of 18 were hospitalized at a rate of 0.01 percent per 100,000 people. For those aged between 18 to 44 years old, hospitalization stands at 0.1 percent per 100,000.

For the age cohort of 65 to 74, only 1.7 percent were subject to hospitalization.

Atlas expanded on these numbers:

Of 4,103 confirmed COVID-19 patients with symptoms bad enough to seek medical care, Dr. Leora Horwitz of NYU Medical Center concluded ‘age is far and away the strongest risk factor for hospitalization.’ Even early WHO reports noted that 80 percent of all cases were mild, and more recent studies show a far more widespread rate of infection and lower rate of serious illness. Half of all people testing positive for infection have no symptoms at all. The vast majority of younger, otherwise healthy people do not need significant medical care if they catch this infection.

Fact 3: Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem.

Atlas noted that “infection itself allows people to generate an immune response — antibodies — so that the infection is controlled throughout the population by ‘herd immunity.’”

Atlas highlighted that medical care is not necessary for a large portion of the population who have caught the virus:

In this virus, we know that medical care is not even necessary for the vast majority of people who are infected. It is so mild that half of infected people are asymptomatic, shown in early data from the Diamond Princess ship, and then in Iceland and Italy. That has been falsely portrayed as a problem requiring mass isolation.

The doctor continued explaining how immunity ends up developing:

In fact, infected people without severe illness are the immediately available vehicle for establishing widespread immunity. By transmitting the virus to others in the low-risk group who then generate antibodies, they block the network of pathways toward the most vulnerable people, ultimately ending the threat. Extending whole-population isolation would directly prevent that widespread immunity from developing.

 Fact 4: People are dying because other medical care is not getting done due to hypothetical projections.

Critical health care for millions of Americans is largely being ignored and people are dying because of “potential” Wuhan virus patients and for fear of transmitting the disease. During this outbreak, a number of states and hospitals stopped “nonessential” procedures and surgery. Atlas noted that the overemphasis of Wuhan virus cases has “prevented diagnoses of life-threatening diseases, like cancer screening, biopsies of tumors now undiscovered and potentially deadly brain aneurysms.”

He continued:

Treatments, including emergency care, for the most serious illnesses were also missed. Cancer patients deferred chemotherapy. An estimated 80 percent of brain surgery cases were skipped. Acute stroke and heart attack patients missed their only chances for treatment, some dying and many now facing permanent disability.

Fact 5: We have a clearly defined population at risk who can be protected with targeted measures.

Atlas stressed that the “overwhelming evidence all over the world consistently shows that a clearly defined group — older people and others with underlying conditions — is more likely to have a serious illness requiring hospitalization and more likely to die from COVID-19.” With those facts in mind, he called for an isolation policy that targets that group, which includes “strictly monitoring those who interact with them.”

The Hoover Institute fellow concluded:

Strictly protect the known vulnerable, self-isolate the mildly sick and open most workplaces and small businesses with some prudent large-group precautions. This would allow the essential socializing to generate immunity among those with minimal risk of serious consequence, while saving lives, preventing overcrowding of hospitals and limiting the enormous harms compounded by continued total isolation. Let’s stop underemphasizing empirical evidence while instead doubling down on hypothetical models. Facts matter.

All things considered, Atlas may be on to something. The Wuhan virus is not as grave as many people believe, so the response must be calibrated in a manner that protects public health while gradually re-opening the economy.

Exclusive — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Beating Coronavirus Without Lockdown: ‘We’re Much Better on Offense’


Reported by MATTHEW BOYLE | Washington, D.C.

URL of the originating web site: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/04/22/exclusive-south-dakota-gov-kristi-noem-on-beating-coronavirus-without-lockdown-were-much-better-on-offense/

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem gives her first State of the State address in Pierre, S.D., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. / James Nord/AP Photo

Noem said that despite earlier projections of a surge on the hospitals in South Dakota and nationwide, “no, we haven’t” seen such a surge. In fact, South Dakota has—again, without a lockdown—cut that number down by 75 percent of the projections, with much less than a hundred people in the hospital.

According to the state’s Department of Health website, there have been 1,858 cases of coronavirus in South Dakota—937 people have recovered. There have been only 9 deaths, and there are 62 people currently hospitalized. In total, only 111 people were ever hospitalized for coronavirus in South Dakota—far less than ever was expected.

“I think we’ve got maybe 60 people in the hospital right now,” Noem said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “We have 2,500 beds set aside for COVID-19 patients, but we only have 63 in. We probably, from all of our projections and studying the science behind the virus, we won’t peak until the middle of June. But we already have done much better than what we had thought would have been hitting our state already.”

“We already have cut our peak projections by 75 percent just putting in place the recommendations I asked people to do, staying at home and they’ve practiced social distancing,” she explained. “They’ve washed their hands and they stayed home if they weren’t feeling well and called their doctors. Just by doing that, we’ve cut the hospitalization rates by 75 percent. So, I’ve just been super proud of what the people in South Dakota have done—they recognized that I wasn’t going to dictate to them, that I valued their freedoms and liberties and that I was going to let them take action on behalf of their families and communities.”

When asked how she made her decision to not issue a closure of businesses in South Dakota and to not issue a statewide stay-at-home order like many other governors did when the crisis was beginning, Noem told Breitbart News that she was focused on providing the best and most scientific response to the coronavirus crisis.

“I looked at our state and our people here and knew they would take on the personal responsibility that would be necessary to protect their families and their communities,” Noem said. “I had a real honest conversation with them and told them what we were facing and that I needed them to make some decisions to follow CDC guidelines and that by doing that we could look at how this virus would impact our state and peak hospitalization rates going forward and do it together.”

“I’m not one who believes in a one-size-fits-all approach, and even in South Dakota I’ve got pretty diverse communities,” she noted. “I’ve got some that are pretty sparse with not many people and then I’ve got some that are big cities as well. So I wanted to leave some flexibility there for local folks to make decisions but also recognizing that when it comes down to it that these guys had to take on the personal responsibility that is necessary to really go after this virus.”

Noem added that when it came to her decision against issuing a lockdown, she factored in her oath to defend the state’s Constitution that she took when she was sworn in as governor and her oath to defend the U.S. Constitution that she took when she was previously sworn in when she was in the U.S. Congress. She was concerned for the civil liberties and freedoms of the people of her state and did not think the facts on the ground warranted a lockdown—something that, again, the statistics have proven to be true.

“It was a decision that I made. The facts on the ground here did not support shelter-in-place,” she said. “We just didn’t have the spread. For me personally, I took an oath to uphold our state Constitution. I took an oath when I was in Congress to uphold the United States Constitution. So I believe in people’s freedoms and liberties and I always balance that with every decision that I make as governor. I get overly concerned with leaders who take too much power in a time of crisis because I think that’s how we directly lose our country someday by leaders overstepping their proper role.”

“So I was balancing all of that perspective and my value system and principles with what I was seeing here in South Dakota and never believed it was appropriate for us to take that kind of action,” Noem explained. “I trust my people. I know that if business owners here are given an opportunity to be innovative, they will protect their customers. They will take actions and change business models to make sure their employees are safe and that they can practice social distancing while still serving their customers. I knew I had to give them an opportunity to survive.”

“What I was going to ask them to do was not going to be something they would have to do just for a week or two,” she explained. “I knew they would have to do it for months, and I didn’t know how they would survive if I shut them down, and for me, it’s always been about whatever I ask you to do today you have to sustain, and I knew that doing that kind of an action was not sustainable. People would not be able to shelter in their homes for six weeks on end, and businesses would not be able to survive and have an economy to be able to put food on the table for folks.”

“All of that was part of my decision-making process, and I decided as well—I knew it was unconventional and it was something that would not be widely embraced across the country–but I knew I had to communicate it and I knew I had to make myself available to South Dakota and tell them why I was making these decisions and make sure we were having real palms-up honest conversations, and I think by and large they’re seeing the wisdom in the action and decisions we’ve made, and they’re grateful for it, but we have a long ways to go though,” Noem said. “We’ve got, that’s the thing, a lot of people want to be done with this now, and I have to keep reminding people we still have not even hit our peak—our numbers are going to continue to get worse, and that reality is something that we’re going to have to deal with for quite some time here.”

Just because there is no stay-at-home order or statewide mandated closure of businesses does not mean South Dakota is just waiting and doing nothing to fight the coronavirus. Noem has undertaken a number of initiatives in South Dakota, including alongside the state’s northern neighbor, North Dakota, the introduction of a cell phone application that helps state health officials with contact tracing of those who test positive for the virus—something she said has been very effective in helping control the spread of the disease.

“The app is called CARE19 and it’s downloadable on both android and iPhones, but what it does is so much of the time of individuals—when somebody tests positive for COVID-19 our Department of Health immediately calls them, asks them to isolate, and then follows up with them and then also does extensive interviews with them to find out about where they had been the previous three or four or five days, where they had been, where they had stopped, so we can identify other individuals that may have been exposed to the virus to let them know and ask them to isolate and slow down the spread,” Noem said. “This app will do all of that in seconds. So, it’s completely voluntary. People can download it on their phone, then turn on location services and then forget about it. Then if they do test positive a week or two weeks down the road they can decide if they want to share that information with us or not and then that will tell us everything about where they were and people that may have been exposed to the virus so they don’t have to try to remember.”

“It literally takes hours of interviews we would have with an individual down to getting all of that same information and having it be much more accurate in seconds,” she explained. “It helps us be much more aggressive in slowing and isolating the spread. The average person we have to contact—if somebody tests positive, we have to call eight or nine people on average that they may have come in contact with and let them know. So even if we only have a hundred cases a day, that’s 800 to 900 phone calls we have to be making to them. Then everybody who tests positive and everybody who has been exposed we call them back the next day and then the next day and so on to make sure they’re still doing okay and that they’re still isolating and all that. By being able to cut down that amount of time it takes to know who may have been exposed, boy it just saves us hundreds of hours and is really helpful. We’re the only—I think North Dakota started it first, I think we started it the next morning, and I think we’re the only two states that are using that kind of technology.”

South Dakota has also, at Noem’s direction, formally launched a statewide, fully-funded, and all-encompassing trial to study the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for coronavirus. There have been some studies that suggest the drug is promising as a potential treatment, and President Donald Trump has touted it as a hopeful possibility, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized its usage on a compassionate care basis if a doctor decides a patient should use it. But no formal studies yet exist to demonstrate the effectiveness of the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19, so Noem stepped up and rallied all of the state’s major healthcare systems to lead a statewide test of the drug.

“What’s happening here in South Dakota is really unprecedented,” Noem said. “There has never been anything like this that has happened before. There is the state government partnering with all of our major health systems to run a statewide, state-backed-and-funded clinical trial. We have Sanford Health in our state that does a lot of research, and they’re running many other clinical trials, and they came to the table and said they would lead it, and I said the state would support it and help secure the drugs with the White House’s help, the hydroxychloroquine and whatever else we would need, and then the other two health systems, Avera and Monument, were excited to partner as well. So we will literally have a clinical trial now where every person in the state will be allowed to participate in.”

“So it’s the first statewide one. I think we’re the only state where it would have been possible to get all of the healthcare systems to agree to participate in,” she continued. “It really is unprecedented as well to get them all to step up and agree to participate, and then we can include up to 100,000 people so it is much larger than a typical clinical trial would be.”

“Sometimes the accuracy of a clinical trial is in question when it’s a super small sample and you don’t get enough people to participate,” Noem explained. “By this, including this many people getting access to the drug and seeing what the results would be, not only allows us to meet the current need but also allows us to get the background data and research that we can use to be on offense against this virus into the future.”

“So, I think this is kind of what South Dakota does best—we’re much better on offense than we are just sitting back and playing defense, and this is one way where I said let’s not just sit back and access the drug and let people use it that are in ICUs and in healthcare systems that need it to save their lives,” she said. “But let’s use it as an opportunity to build out our capacity for doing research so that in the long run we’re contributing to addressing COVID-19 for years into the future.”

South Dakota is still, Noem added, planning to have fireworks over Mount Rushmore this year—a promise President Trump made when signing a phase one trade deal with China earlier this year.

“They are—we’ll decide what it looks like but there will be fireworks over Mount Rushmore this year. We’re still moving ahead,” Noem said.

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