Kristi Noem
© Joe Raedle/Getty Images
South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the CPAC 2021 gathering in Orlando, Florida
Contrast South Dakota's response to COVID-19 pandemic to New York's

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem says her state did a good job dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and said the nation's lead immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, "is wrong a lot."

"In South Dakota, I provided all of the information that we had to our people, and then I trusted them to make the best decisions for themselves [on how to prevent the spread of the virus] for their families and in turn their communities," she said.

"We never focused on case numbers. Instead, we kept our eye on hospital capacity. Dr. Fauci told me that I would have 10,000 COVID patients in the hospital on our worst day. On our worst day, we had a little over 600. I don't know if you agree but, Fauci is wrong a lot," Noem said.

Back in March, Fauci said "there's no reason to be walking around with a mask."

"When you're in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it's not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is," the doctor said on CBS News.

But the response to the virus has been evolving since then. Soon after Fauci made his comments, experts — including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — said Americans should wear masks, citing estimates that 40% or more of those infected were asymptomatic but could still spread the virus.

"We were not aware that 40% to 45% of people were asymptomatic, nor were we aware that a substantial proportion of people who get infected get infected from people who are without symptoms. That makes it overwhelmingly important for everyone to wear a mask," Fauci said in September, noting that "the data now are very, very clear."

Just last month, Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on President Trump's White House Coronavirus Task Force and is now President Biden's chief medical adviser on COVID-19, said wearing two masks is likely more effective than wearing one.

"If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on it, just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective," Fauci told NBC News on Monday.

During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, the governor contrasted her response to the pandemic with that of New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She cited a November appearance by Cuomo on This Week, in which host George Stephanopoulos asked Cuomo if he had advice for Noem.

"[Stephanopoulos] asked Cuomo to give me advice on how to deal with COVID. Now seems like a good time to remind everyone of what Governor Cuomo was doing in New York," Noem said, citing the New York governor's March 2020 order mandating nursing homes accept COVID-positive patients.

"Six days after that, he prohibited nursing homes from sending COVID patients to the nearby Naval hospital ship or the field hospital — Both of which were essentially empty," she said. "Eight days after that, the first deaths began to show up."
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 30+ years, working as the White House correspondent for The Washington Times from 1998-2010 and then as a columnist. He also ran the Drudge Report for four years as the a.m. editor. He's also written for Fox News, The Observer, and other publications as well as appearing dozens of times on various news shows.