South Dakota Medical Association pushes statewide mask rules

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender held a press conference Monday in response to the increase in...
Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender held a press conference Monday in response to the increase in coronavirus cases... where he issued a mask mandate for city buildings. During KOTA’s Facebook live stream, citizens of Rapid City gave their opinion on the Mayor’s decision.(Miranda O'Bryan)
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 1:45 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - The largest group representing South Dakota doctors has come out in support of a statewide mask mandate as several cities have moved this week to require face coverings in public settings.

The South Dakota State Medical Association has been urging people to voluntarily wear masks, but updated its stance to "strongly support " a statewide mandate.

Gov. Kristi Noem has opposed government-imposed mask mandates, arguing they have not been proven to halt the spread of infections. She planned to give an update on the state’s coronavirus situation later Wednesday.

South Dakota is enduring one of the worst virus outbreaks in the country, with the second-worst rate of new cases per capita over the last two weeks. There were 2,089 new cases per 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins researchers, meaning that roughly one out of every 48 people has tested positive in the last two weeks.

Health officials reported that 30 people had died from COVID-19 and 1,387 people had tested positive for the virus. Hospitals have 593 COVID-19 patients.

The number of COVID-19 deaths has also sky-rocketed in recent weeks. Health officials have reported 259 deaths in November — about a third of the state’s total death toll over the course of the pandemic.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.