Noem got a standing ovation from the CPAC audience in Orlando, Florida, Saturday after she boasted that she had never ordered a “single business or church to close” to help stem the spread of COVID-19 — and another when she said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is “wrong a lot” about the pandemic.
Mentioned as a potential contender for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2024, Noem boasted about what she considers her state’s handling the health crisis — even though South Dakota’s COVID-19 mortality rate late last year was the third-highest in the world. As its residents took cues from Noem, the state’s rate of face-mask use has been among the lowest in the U.S.
Fauci, appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” told host Margaret Brennan that he was sure that at CPAC, “you can get a standing ovation by saying I’m wrong.” But, he added, numbers “don’t lie.”
He called Noem’s refusal to accept health protection measures amid a mounting COVID-19 death toll “unfortunate” and “not helpful.” He added, “We see what happens when you pull back [restrictions] prematurely.”
Noem made a separate appearance on “Face The Nation,” and Brennan grilled her about South Dakota has had the nation’s highest COVID-19 mortality rate per capita at times last year. Brennan asked how someone who claims to care about the sanctity of life can “justify making decisions that put the health of your constituents at risk.”
Noem deflected the questions, suggesting to ask it of the governors of other states that have been hit hard by the pandemic, such as Democrats Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gavin Newsom of California.