South Dakota Governor: No Social Distancing, Masks Optional at Mount Rushmore Event

June 30, 2020 Updated: June 30, 2020

Masks are optional and attendees won’t be required to social distance at the July 3 event scheduled for Mount Rushmore, South Dakota’s governor said.

“We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we won’t be social distancing,” Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said late Monday during an appearance on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

“We’re asking them to come—be ready to celebrate, to enjoy the freedoms and the liberties that we have in this country and to talk about our history and what it brought us today—an opportunity to raise our heads in the greatest country in the world.”

State officials have urged people to take personal responsibility and make their own decisions about how to act during the COVID-19 pandemic, Noem added.

South Dakota has one of the lowest case counts in the nation, with 6,716 total cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. since the pandemic started earlier this year. Just over 800 of those cases are still active.

Only 70 patients are hospitalized at present and hospitals were never in danger of being overwhelmed, state officials said.

South Dakota has seen 91 deaths with COVID-19 and 5,818 recoveries, according to the state Department of Health.

Governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, left, speaks as President Donald Trump listens during a meeting about the Governors’ Initiative on Regulatory Innovation in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington on Dec. 16, 2019. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The virus, which causes a disease called COVID-19, primarily causes severe issues in the elderly and among those with underlying health conditions such as obesity and kidney disease.

According to a website for the July 3 event at Mount Rushmore, attendance was limited through an online lottery, which closed on June 8. Results were delivered by email on June 12.

The event is completely free. Each ticket allows up to six people to attend.

President Donald Trump, a Republican, is planning to attend the event, which organizers have spent about 18 months planning.

“We have been through a really rough patch in these last couple of months. We can’t think of anything better then to celebrate and have a little fun on July 3rd with a fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore,” Secretary of Tourism Jim Hagen said at a June 4 press conference.

Around 7,500 attendees are expected, he said.

Noem told reporters that people who didn’t receive tickets to the event will be able to gather outside the national monument to watch the show.

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