South Dakota Has 4th Biggest COVID-19 Hotspot In The U.S., After GOP Gov Refused To Issue Stay-At-Home Order

With a population of just under 200,000 residents, Minnehaha County, South Dakota, is on the map this year for a tragic reason: it’s one of the biggest hotspots in the country for a coronavirus outbreak.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

With 527 confirmed cases so far, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker, including two deaths, that means that more than 27 individuals for every 10,000 residents have developed the disease.

The outbreak is believed to have started from a meatpacking plant in the county. Hundreds of workers from the plant have reported symptoms, according to reporting from KGET.

The unusually high number of cases in a rural area currently makes Minnehaha County the fourth-largest hotspot in the country.

The outbreak came in spite of claims from South Dakota’s governor that a stay-at-home order wasn’t necessary. Earlier this month, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem justified not issuing such an order by describing the state as being significantly smaller, population-wise, to other parts of the country that had been hit hard by the disease.

“South Dakota is not New York City,” Noem said at the time.

By comparison, New York City presently has more than 100,000 cases of coronavirus — but because the city has a population of over 8.3 million, it’s rate per 10,000 residents is actually half that of Minnehaha County.

In other words, at this present moment, you’re two times as likely to get infected with coronavirus in that South Dakota county than you are in New York.

Noem is also pushing South Dakota to test the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, an as-yet unproven drug in the fight against coronavirus.

“We’re set up right now to treat up to 100,000 people in the state of South Dakota, and we’ll be the first statewide and state-backed and endorsed clinical trial using hydroxy in this form,” Noem said this week.

The drug has been found in other studies to have potentially caused harm in other ways to patients, including potentially elevating their risk to heart arrhythmia or other heart issues. The CIA has advised its own workers against using the drug.

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