South Dakota went ahead with its annual state fair, despite being "one of the nation's hot spots for COVID-19 infections," USA Today reports.
The rural South Dakota State Fair, which reported an attendance of205,000 people last year, is set to run through Labor Day with more hand-washing stations, social distancing reminders and an encouragement — but not a requirement — for attendees to wear masks. It comes on the heels of the state's two largest events:The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the The Sioux Empire Fair.
In the weeks following those events, South Dakota has emerged as a virus hotbed, according to data analysis. State and national health experts say the rise in cases is likely fueled by a combination of factors, including school reopenings, small gatherings and major events.
Governor Kristi Noem (R) said the people of her state will not “be the subjects of an elite class of so-called experts” in response to calls that the state fair be canceled amid South Dakota’s spike in coronavirus cases.
USA Today noted that Noem has resisted measures that would help slow the spread of the virus, writing:
She has discouraged schools from requiring masks, instead promoting hand-washing as the best way to prevent infections, and railed against an "elite class of so-called experts" whose opinions impact individuals' liberties.