It’s not as though the novel coronavirus hasn’t touched each of their states in some way. Yet a combination of states’ rights defiance, persuasion from some business and agricultural leaders and a largely rural composition have branded these governors as outliers during a moment of national crisis, where the actions of one potentially affect all.
In South Dakota, a Republican state lawmaker was among the first in the state to test positive, followed soon after by his wife, brother and sister-in-law. His 51-year-old niece has died of Covid-19, family members told reporters, with several others experiencing symptoms.
In explaining her rationale against issuing a stay-at-home order, Gov. Kristi Noem told reporters, “The people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety.” She also pointed to the state and national constitutions that “prevent us from taking draconian measures much like the Chinese government has done.”
In state after state, the Republican governors have all used the argument of government intrusion as one of the leading reasons for not following the lead of a majority of states in issuing stricter guidelines that could help sound the alarm about the serious nature of the threat.