Getting back to normal

Courtesy photo

I know everyone is eager to get back to their daily routines and dive back into what they love doing. But it’s important to remember that some people will never get to return to normal. I lost my Dad at a very young age. That experience greatly changed the path that I was on. Similarly, this COVID-19 pandemic has greatly changed the path so many South Dakotans were on as well.

We knew this virus would be deadly, no matter what we did. But that doesn’t change the fact that COVID-19 stole husbands, wives, sons, daughters, and friends from their families and loved ones. These people and their families will never be the same. My heart breaks for them, and Bryon and I will continue to lift them up in our prayers.

What has also been stolen from so many is perhaps our most precious commodity — time. For weeks, the most vulnerable, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents have been in isolation — separated from friends and loved ones.  Then there are students. Though the vast majority of schools and teachers have been doing well, we also know that there are kids who have totally lost contact with their teachers and schools.

My point is that in addition to the health costs, the social costs of this virus are historic in the worst way.

Since day one, I have pledged to let the science, the facts, and the data on the ground in South Dakota drive all my decision-making. I have been very clear that our people need to take their responsibility for health and safety seriously — that they should be practicing good public hygiene and social distancing.  The people of South Dakota have done a tremendous job. Our initial projections on March 10 showed our hospitalization capacity at an unmanageable place. We took specific, targeted steps to alter our path. We pushed our peak off into the future. We cut it by more than 75%. And today, our hospital capacity greatly exceeds our needs. In South Dakota, an unprecedented situation like this revealed publicly a principle we hold dear: It’s our people that make us great, not our government.

Our state motto is a beautiful one: “Under God, the people rule.” That is what our system of government is all about — the people of South Dakota are the source of the power and legitimacy of our government — not the media, not politicians, and not political parties.  That’s a healthy perspective for any elected official to keep in mind.

If you’ve not read it yet, our “Back to Normal” plan doesn’t include new government programs, more red tape, proscriptive phases, tight controls, or anything of the like. That’s not South Dakota.

Rather, our plan continues to put the power of decision-making into the hands of the people — where it belongs. I trust South Dakotan’s to continue to exercise common sense, reasonableness, innovation, and a commitment to themselves, their families, and — in turn — their communities.

We’re not out of the woods yet, but there’s a path to get Back to Normal, together. To read the full plan, visit COVID.sd.gov.

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