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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem accuses Washington Post of blatant disregard for facts surrounding the Smithfield Foods COVID-19 outbreak

They're 'creating this fear culture'

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem slammed the Washington Post Wednesday, claiming the paper ignored facts and ran with an agenda in its recent report on the meat processing plant forced to close in the state due to the coronavirus.

In a report Monday, the Post criticized the governor for not issuing a stay-at-home order for her state, suggesting that her refusal to do so inevitably resulted in the recent outbreak at Smithfield Foods, a giant pork-processing plant where more than 500 workers have recently fallen ill with COVID-19.

But Noem is not accepting that narrative. In an interview with Glenn Beck, she fired back, asserting that a shelter-in-place or lockdown order would not have affected the Smithfield Foods plant since it is a "critical infrastructure business."

"Regardless if I had chosen to put a shelter-in-place order across the state of South Dakota, that plant would have been up and operating because it's such an important part of our food supply and, frankly, having it running is a national security issue," she said.

"The [Washington] Post decided to not use the facts and run with an agenda that I think is unfortunate for the public," she added. "I think it's a grave disservice to our public when they don't tell all the facts because they're misleading them and creating this fear culture."

The Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, responsible for producing 18 million servings of food each day, is one of the nation's largest pork processing plants in America. On Sunday, the plant announced it would be closing indefinitely and issued an ominous warning about the consequences for the country's meat supply.

"The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply," CEO Kenneth Sullivan said in a statement.

Despite increasing pressure, Noem has stood firm in her refusal to issue a statewide lockdown order even after the pork processing plant became one of the top hot spots in the country for the infectious disease. The state as a whole reported 1,168 confirmed cases as of Wednesday — 934 of those cases are from the county where the plant is located.

In other news, Noem announced on Monday that South Dakota would be launching a statewide trial to test the effectiveness of the Trump-touted antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.

One last thing…
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