Gov. Noem addresses building emergency hospital, economic development


Gracie Terrall, Copy Editor

A new individual joined Gov. Kristi Noem for her press briefing Thursday, April 2. South Dakota Secretary of the Department of Labor Marcia Hultman walked people through the steps needed to file for reemployment. 

Hultman urged people to try to file online so as not to overload the phone systems, which were so backlogged they crashed Monday, March 30. She also advised people to make weekly requests for payment so their claim stays active. 

During the week of March 22-28, 6,645 additional unemployment benefit claims were filed, according to Noem. This is an increase of over 4,000 from the prior weeks. 

“We have to find ways to innovate, to feed families and keep a roof over our head,” Noem said.

Noem addressed questions regarding Title 32 and the enlistment of National Guard members to help build temporary emergency hospitals. Title 32 allows for state governors, with the approval from the President or Secretary of Defense, to order active members of the National Guard for defense activities. Federal dollars are being used to help pay for the services of the Guard. 

Details about which National Guard units are to be activated have yet to be released. Members will be enlisted to help build hospitals in Sioux Falls and Rapid City. 

“We need to be looking at each individual community, and county and city and making sure we are making adjustments to take care of folks,” Noem said.

Hospitals built by the National Guard will be facilities to address certain Coronavirus-specific needs. These hospitals will be supplemental and utilized to best take care of people with the virus. 

“We don’t just need to stand up hospital beds,” Noem said. “We need to stand up a specific number of ICU beds. A specific number of beds that have ventilator capacity.”

According to South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon, the National Guard is planning to implement 100 beds in both Rapid City and Brookings. Noem also encourages hospitals to over-prepare effectively to take care of those who need it during this pandemic. 

Noem relayed to business owners who are expected to be closed for months to call the South Dakota Department of Economic Development. During Veto Day, laws were passed to help small business owners keep their businesses afloat during the coming months including $10.5 million set aside in a loan fund. 

“I don’t believe businesses should be forced to close… Give them the opportunity to be innovative,” Noem said.