April 29, 2020

USA: South Dakota Throws An Impromptu Parade For Republican Governor Kristi Noem Who Declined To Shutdown Her State Amid Pandemic. South Dakota Reports 11 Coronavirus Deaths.

written by Daniel Villarreal
Tuesday April 28, 2020

Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem had an impromptu parade thrown in her honor on Tuesday in the capitol city of Pierre. A local construction company organized the parade to show appreciation for her handling of the coronavirus epidemic.

Noem, the state's first female governor, was one of a handful of governors not to issue an order shuttering non-essential businesses during the ongoing epidemic.

The parade, organized by John Morris of Morris Inc. construction company, featured "literally hundreds of cars," fire trucks and other vehicles honking their horns and sirens while Noem watched, apparently surprised, from a local park.

Governor Noem shared video of the event on her Twitter account along with the words, "I am so blessed to serve the people of the great State of South Dakota. You folks made my day!"

Morris told Newsweek that he and his wife came up with the parade as a way to let the governor to know that state residents support her.

"We just felt bad that the leadership of our state was kind of getting lambasted for her decision [not to close the state]. In South Dakota when somebody's getting discouraged or down on their luck, that's what we do: We step up for each other."

Morris and his wife reportedly organized the parade by sending out "hundreds of text messages" to local friends and business owners. By one of his employee's count, roughly 230 vehicles participated, driving a four-block route from a local high school, past the governor's residence to the capitol building.

He said that drivers by asked him and his employees whether they could drive in the procession as well to show their support. The governor was notified by a member of her staff who Morris contacted. "We wanted it to be a surprise," Morris said, "It was a great showing for our governor. It's tough times... but she's been an amazing leader."

On March 10, Noem confirmed five state residents had tested positive for coronavirus. One of the individuals had preexisting health conditions that led to their death. "The cases are travel-related," Noem declared at the time.

"Without panicking, I encourage all South Dakotans to take this seriously," Noem said during the March 10 press conference, noting that she had no plans to declare a state of emergency.

Instead of shuttering businesses statewide, Noem ordered nonessential businesses to allow employees to work from home, placed a limit on social gatherings, required restaurants to offer take-out options only, and instructed people over the age of 60 and other vulnerable groups to take extreme precautions throughout the epidemic.

At the time, Noem said restaurants and bar closures weren't necessary in the state because South Dakota hadn't experienced a community spread of the virus.

But on Sunday, April 12, the Smithfield Foods meatpacking plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota closed indefinitely after becoming a coronavirus hotspot.

By April 15, the state had reported 545 cases linked to the plant, with 438 employees testing positive and 107 additional cases from individuals who had contact with those employees. At the time, the cases linked to the plant represented 55 percent of the state's total cases.

Thus far, South Dakota has had 2,245 confirmed coronavirus cases and 11 deaths. It ranks 41st among the 50 U.S. states for the highest number of cases.

Governor Kristi Noem published April 17, 2020: Gov. Noem Discusses COVID-19 on The Ingraham Angle. I took an oath to uphold the constitutions of our state and of our country. And I will always stand for South Dakotans' freedom and liberties.
The Federalist
written by Tristan Justice
Monday April 13, 2020

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem announced Monday that her state would be the first to begin a statewide clinical trial for the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the novel Wuhan coronavirus sweeping the globe.

“From day one, I’ve said we’re going to let the science, facts, and data drive our decision-making,” Noem told Fox News in a statement.

The announcement comes days after talks with the White House where Noem told administration officials “that South Dakota’s medical community was ready to step up and lead the way on research efforts.”

Noem said she made “direct requests” to the president to provide “enough hydroxychloroquine so that it could be made available for every hospitalized person the state may have, as well as those for health care workers on the frontlines and those in the most vulnerable populations,” according to Fox.

“Today, I’m pleased to report we have received the initial doses we need, and thanks to the leadership of Sanford Health and the assistance of medical teams at Avera and Monument Health, we’re going to be the first state in the nation to do a comprehensive clinical trial to assess whether hydroxychloroquine can treat and perhaps even prevent COVID-19,” the governor told Fox.

Trump derangement syndrome turned the malaria medicine controversial last month when President Donald Trump touted the drug’s potential effectiveness in the battle against the coronavirus with very few negative side effects.

“It’s been around for a long time, so we know if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” Trump said during a White House press briefing.

Days later, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug for treatment in coronavirus-infected patients, and after media vilification of Trump’s comments pinning the tragic death of an uninfected man who ingested fish-tank cleaner in the absence of medical guidance on the president, the New York Times conceded that the medicine “helped speed the recovery in moderately ill patients.”

The National Institute of Health (NIH) announced last week that clinical trials had begun on a smaller scale last week among 500 patients hospitalized or in emergency rooms anticipating hospitalization over the virus in Tennessee.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House coronavirus task force team has maintained that health care providers should use caution when considering the drug as COVID-19 treatment.

“We still need to do the definitive studies to determine whether any intervention, not just this one, is truly safe and effective,” Fauci said on Fox News.
UPDATE 4/29/20 at 6:03pm: Added info below.
Financial Times
written by Donato Paolo Mancini in London and Hannah Kuchler in NY
Thursday April 23, 2020

A potential antiviral drug to treat coronavirus has flopped in its first randomised clinical trial, disappointing scientists and investors who had high hopes for remdesivir, according to draft documents published accidentally by the World Health Organization and seen by the Financial Times.

The Chinese trial showed remdesivir — developed by California-based Gilead Sciences — did not improve patients’ condition or reduce the pathogen’s presence in the bloodstream. Researchers studied 237 patients, giving the drug to 158 and comparing their progress with the remaining 79. The drug also showed significant side effects in some, which meant 18 patients were taken off it.

The WHO said the draft document, which is undergoing peer review, was published early in error. “In response to WHO asking for information and studies to be shared early, a draft document was provided by the authors to WHO and inadvertently posted on the website and taken down as soon as the mistake was noticed,” it said. 

Gilead warned that the post included “inappropriate characterisations of the study”. 

“Importantly, because this study was terminated early due to low enrolment, it was underpowered to enable statistically meaningful conclusions,” it said. “As such, the study results are inconclusive, though trends in the data suggest a potential benefit for remdesivir, particularly among patients treated early in disease.”

Gilead trading was briefly halted on the Nasdaq on Thursday after the shares fell sharply on the news of the results of the study, and ended the day down more than 4 per cent at about $77.78. The stock surged to a high of almost $84 last week on hopes for remdesivir, valuing the company at nearly $100bn.

Until now, evidence from the use of Gilead’s remdesivir on treating Covid-19 had relied on studies that did not meet the robust scientific standards of being randomised and having a control arm. 

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