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Governor declares emergency, closes schools in wake of COVID-19 cases in the state

UNDATED – Governor Kristi Noem has declared a state of emergency in South Dakota and asked that schools close next week in response to the COVID-19 virus.

The move comes as one additional positive COVID-19 test was reported over the past 24 hours. The person testing positive in the 30-39 year old age range and lives in McCook County. The person was reportedly traveling as were the other eight individuals who have tested positive.

Noem is also taking the unprecedented step in requesting that public and private schools in South Dakota keeps kids out of the classrooms next week.

“We are asking schools to close next week statewide. I am recommending the schools then use this time to clean their facilities and prepare for the following week. We are also postponing all basketball tournaments and all other extracurricular activities.”

The Girls Class B State Basketball Tournament had already started, but Noem says after consultation with the South Dakota High School Activities Association, they decided to shut it down and send students and fans home.

The Governor is also asking all non-essential state employees to work from home and is as part of the emergency declaration, is asking the health department to step up efforts in preventing the spread of this virus.

“This order will direct the Department of Health and other agencies to seek or accept funding from other resources from federal government to help treat and protect from the spread of this virus. I have also asked the health department to direct all nursing homes and other facilities to restrict visitors and take other precautions necessary to stop the spread of the virus.”

Noem says there was no one reason for issuing the emergency declaration, but rather to make sure the state keeps the virus in check.

Noem says there is still no sign of a community-wide spread of the virus.

The health department says with today’s one positive result, there have been 46 negative tests and 11 tests are still pending.

The Governor will be in Sioux Falls Friday afternoon meeting with officials from the Sanford and Avera Health systems.

The state will have more testing kits available as only one test will need to be conducted now instead of two. Also, a commercial lab is also processing tests.

The Governor also said she has been in touch with tribal officials about the outbreak. 

She also says she’s talked to the Secretary of State about contingencies if the April elections would need to be postponed. 

Noem continues to ask citizens to practice good hygiene, wash your hands, stay home from work if you’re sick, and avoid large crowds. 

The state is keeping its website, COVID.SD.GOV updated and encourages people to visit that site for the latest information about the virus.

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