Appearing Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Fauci — the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — described Noem’s remarks as “unfortunate.”
“It is not really helpful. Because sometimes you think things are going well, and just take a look at the numbers. They don’t lie,” he said, adding: “I’m sure that you can get a standing ovation by saying I’m wrong.”
Public health experts have been critical of Noem’s comparatively few coronavirus-related restrictions and broader pandemic response in South Dakota, where per capita deaths have soared in one of the country’s least-populated states. More than 512,000 Americans have died from the pandemic.
But Noem, who appeared after Fauci on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, defended her handling of the crisis, saying she gave South Dakotans “personal responsibility over decisions for their families’ public health, but also gave them the flexibility they needed to keep their businesses open.”
“South Dakota is doing well,” Noem said. “We’ve had some tragic situations, but I know that respecting them in my role, in the authority that I have as governor, has been incredibly helpful to get our state … through this challenging time.”