South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem told Indian tribes on Friday that they had 48 hours to clear the roadside checkpoints they had set up to keep unnecessary visitors from worrying about the coronavirus.
The Republican governor said she would take legal action if the tribes did not clear the checkpoints within 48 hours.
Last month, two tribes – the Sioux tribe of Oglala and the Sioux tribe of Cheyenne River – set up checkpoints to lock up their reserves, fearing that infections would decimate the members.
This decision sets up a potential legal confrontation between a governor who has avoided sweeping residence orders and the tribes who assert their sovereign rights allow them to control who comes on the reserves.
The governor of South Dakota demands that the Native American tribes remove the checkpoints on the American and national freeways leading to their reserves. The image above shows a checkpoint held by members of the Sioux tribe law enforcement agencies on the Cheyenne River
Tribes have said they are concerned that an epidemic of coronavirus on their reserves will overwhelm their fragile health care systems.
South Dakota is home to nine federally recognized tribal nations with sovereign rights over their lands
Tribes have taken stronger action than the state because they fear the virus will overwhelm the fragile health systems that serve many people with underlying health conditions.
They still allow essential businesses to access reservations and said checkpoints have been put in place to prevent tourists or other visitors who may be carrying coronavirus infections.
“I demand that the tribes immediately stop interfering with or regulating traffic on US and state highways and removing all movement checkpoints,” Noem said in a statement.
Spokeswoman Maggie Seidel said checkpoints were illegal and tribes should have removed them last month after the Bureau of Indian Affairs said tribes could close or restrict traffic on the roads, but only if they got permission from the road owner.
A statement from the governor’s office said that the tribes had not consulted with or obtained an agreement from the state.
But the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe said they had met with local, state and federal officials to discuss the checkpoints and would not shoot them down.
Tribe President Harold Frazier issued a statement to Noem, stating, “You continue to interfere in our efforts to do what science and the facts dictate seriously affect our ability to protect everyone.” in the reserve.
Republican Governor Kristi Noem has so far resisted the imposition of statewide foreclosure orders as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in South Dakota
The Sioux tribe of Cheyenne River issued a statement accusing Noem of “interfering in our efforts to do what science and the facts dictate” and of “ignorant statements”
Chase Iron Eyes, spokesperson for the Sioux President of Oglala, Julian Bear Runner, said he expected the tribe to stand up for their rights as a sovereign nation to prevent threats to their health.
“We would be interested in talking face to face with Governor Noem and the Attorney General and anyone else involved,” he said.
The governor also held calls with Smithfield workers Thursday and Friday as the pork factory where hundreds of workers were infected reopens after being closed for more than three weeks.
Noem spokesman Ian Fury said she spent about two hours talking to the total workers and that the governor’s office contacted all of the factory workers.
But an organization defending Smithfield employees disagreed.
The image above shows a Smithfield Foods pork factory in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on April 16. The factory, which was closed for three weeks after hundreds of employees were infected with COVID-19, reopened this week, although more cases of COVID-19 have been reported
South Dakota Voices for Justice said in a statement that the employees invited to the call were “handpicked by the company’s HR”.
The organization said it was still asking Noem to meet with advocates, as well as employees, “so that we can work together to keep workers safe and Smithfield’s return to producing essential supplies.” food of our country “.
After the Department of Health organized a mass test for Smithfield workers and their families this week in Sioux Falls, officials reported on Friday an increase in confirmed cases of coronavirus with 239 new infections.
Almost 250 new cases were reported on Saturday after a mass test in the Sioux Falls area.
State epidemiologist Josh Clayton said health officials hadn’t been able to determine which test results came from the mass event, but said it was likely that rising cases confirmed came from these results.
A total of 203 of Friday’s confirmed cases were reported in Minnehaha County, which contains most of Sioux Falls.
Public health officials have said that 232 of the 249 new cases reported on Saturday were in Minnehaha County.
A total of 435 people tested positive in Minnehaha County in the past two days, for a total of 2,767 cases in the county.
The total number of statewide cases now stands at 3,393.
Three new deaths were confirmed on Saturday, all from residents of Minnehaha County over the age of 70.
The state’s death toll stands at 34.
Authorities said 79 people were hospitalized with the virus.
While 3,393 tested positive, the actual number of infections would be much higher as many people have not been tested and people can become infected without feeling sick.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, which go away within two to three weeks.
For some, especially the elderly and people with existing health problems, this can cause more serious illnesses, including pneumonia.