Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem says she won’t do more to promote coronavirus vaccines, claiming that the state’s outreach efforts are at “a saturation level where people start to tune you out,” the Associated Press reports.
While South Dakota experienced the third-highest number of infections per capita of all state, Noem has become a media starlet in conservative circles, with many pundits pointing to her as a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate.
Republicans and many right-wing commentators have shifted their messaging in the last week, encouraging people to get one of the available vaccines as the delta variant sweeps across the country and data show that more than 95% of people hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated.
Noem, however, has chosen to maintain the mythic conservative “small government” approach, refusing to push people to get vaccinated. “Any other governor that took a stronger mitigation measure, they broke their oath to the Constitution,” Noem said in an interview with AP. “Every governor that closed a business could be sued for the taking of that business.”
“We might need to really step up our communication so that people understand how the variant is different,” she said, seemingly preparing the ground for a future policy reversal. “You might see more communication from us if we start seeing cases dramatically increase.”