Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem criticized her fellow GOP governors Sunday for introducing lockdowns and mask mandates in their states during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve got Republican governors across this country pretending they didn’t shut down their states; that they didn’t close their beaches; that they didn’t mandate masks, that they didn’t issue shelter-in-place orders,” Noem said during her Sunday speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“Now I’m not picking fights with Republican governors. All I’m saying is that we need leaders with grit. That their first instinct is to make the right decision. That they don’t backtrack and then try to fool you into the fact that they never made the wrong decision,” Noem said.
Following up on her CPAC comments, the South Dakota governor wrote in a Sunday evening Twitter post: “South Dakota did not do any mandates. We trusted our people … gave them all the information and told them that personal responsibility was the best answer.”
According to the non-profit, non-partisan political encyclopedia website Ballotpedia, between March and April last year, 43 governors instructed their residents to stay at home and shut down any “nonessential businesses” they owned.
Out of 26 Republican governors in the country, 19 instituted stay-at-home orders, Ballotpedia documented.
The states where GOP leaders authorized such measures include Arizona, Texas, Indiana, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina.
Besides stay-at-home orders, many states with Republican governors also issued mask mandates before then, lifting them as the pandemic subsided in their jurisdictions.
These states include Wyoming, Montana, Texas, Alabama, Indiana, Arkansas and West Virginia, according to Ballotpedia.
Business Insider suggested that Noem’s comments could be her firing at Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, whose COVID-19 restrictions were stricter than Noem’s.
Noem was one of the Republican governors who did not institute such statewide measures. She refused to relent, even as COVID-19 cases soared in South Dakota last year, according to CNN.
Critical of her hands-off approach, some state county, tribal and city leaders enacted their own restrictive measures in their jurisdictions.
South Dakota witnessed “extraordinarily high” cases per capita and test positivity rates during the COVID-19 surge in winter last year, the Insider reported.
“Demand honesty from your leaders and make sure that every one of them is willing to make the tough decisions,” Noem further said in her speech, CNN reported.
CPAC this year is taking place in Dallas. The event features several conservative speakers ranging from public officials to journalists and activists.
According to the official website, former President Donald Trump, Black Guns Matter founder Maj Toure and Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer are some of the names speaking at the conference.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.