SD Gov Says Attendees At Trump’s Mount Rushmore Event ‘Won’t Be Social Distancing’

Mount Rushmore National Memorial on April 23, 2020, in Keystone, South Dakota. - The steep roads that wind their way to Mount Rushmore are completely deserted. The South Dakota tourist mecca attracts only a few clust... Mount Rushmore National Memorial on April 23, 2020, in Keystone, South Dakota. - The steep roads that wind their way to Mount Rushmore are completely deserted. The South Dakota tourist mecca attracts only a few clusters of visitors happy to escape the confinement caused by the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said late Monday that participants at a July 3 celebration for Independence Day at Mount Rushmore with President Trump will not be required to practice social distancing, despite CDC recommendations amid soaring COVID-19 cases in hotspots across the country.

“We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home,” Noem told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Monday night.“We won’t be social distancing,” she added.

Trump, who has turned the scientifically proven fact that wearing a face covering helps to curb the spread of the coronavirus into a partisan dispute, is expected to deliver remarks at the celebration in the famed national park. Noem said that free face masks would be distributed to those who “choose to wear one.” 

Noem said officials in her state have focused on urging South Dakotans “to focus on personal responsibility.” The governor added, “Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they’re comfortable with.”

The governor’s defiance of social distancing, which has been encouraged by public health experts at an event that could welcome up to just about 7,500 people, according to NBC News, comes amid a marked rise in COVID-19 infections. Some states have  responded by slowing reopening plans and even reinstalling restrictions on larger gatherings that could accelerate the spread of the virus.

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