South Dakota Gov. Noem defends forgoing masks as virus surges

National News

FILE – In this Jan. 2019 file photo, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks in Pierre, S.D. Noem said in a statement Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, that as part of the state’s settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union, the state will not enforce parts of the laws that made it a crime to direct or encourage others to “riot.” The ACLU sued over the laws, saying they infringed on free speech rights. (AP Photo/James Nord, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has defended people who choose not to wear masks in public as she appeared at a news conference to address the growing health crisis for the first time in over three months.

Even as the state deals with one of the worst virus outbreaks in the nation, the Republican governor asked that people respect those who don’t wear masks, saying they are making a “personal decision.”

She has refused to encourage people to wear masks or socially distance, instead saying the best thing people can do is wash their hands.

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