Over the last week, South Dakota has recorded stark COVID-19 death rates and its hospitals are rapidly filling up with COVID patients. How did this happen? Because its governor adopted an extreme libertarian approach and resisted imposing any orders for people to stay at home, instead preferring to give residents the freedom to continue their lives as they liked, with no mandate on masks or stay-at-home orders.

Besides shoppers and workers being told to keep their distance from each other, for the most part, South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, has refused to place any restrictions on people’s lives. In April, she complained that ‘so many people [had given] up their liberties for just a little bit of security’. Over the summer, as many as 500,000 people attended a mass motorcycle rally in the state…

But even as she stands on the precipice of this dire situation, Gov. Noem has not been spurred into action. ‘I’m going to continue to trust South Dakotans to make wise and well-informed decisions for themselves and their families,’ she wrote last month. ‘I’m also asking that we all show respect and understanding to those who make choices we may not agree with. Our trust in the data and in each other has been rewarded. This is a testament to the people of South Dakota — our greatest weapon against this common enemy.’