Aldys Arnold, 98, and her granddaughter, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (Facebook)

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem's grandmother, Aldys Arnold, died on November 22 at the age of 98, and was buried Monday, on the governor's birthday. Noem's office said Arnold had tested negative for COVID-19, although as the Daily Beast points out, her exact cause of death wasn't released. But she died during a cluster of COVID-19 deaths at her nursing home, Estelline Nursing and Care Center in Estelline, South Dakota. Of the 13 residents who have died in the past two weeks, nursing home administrator Mike Ward said 12 have been "COVID-related."

Two days before she buried her grandmother, Noem was on Twitter urging people to get out there and go shopping — in a state where she still refuses to order a mask mandate, because liberty and personal responsibility.

Also too, on Thursday, Noem celebrated Thanksgiving by praising the glorious freedom God granted Americans to not take protective measures during a pandemic, and with an essay about personal responsibility on her state website.

Hooray for the liberty that helped kill a dozen residents at the nursing home where Noem's grandma died of some other cause, according to her office at least. And yes: "happy."

Noem has regularly explained that preventing the spread of the virus is a matter of "personal responsibility" and that imposing public health orders during a pandemic is the sort of tyranny the Founders would never have accepted. In July, she twote, following her no-masks, no social distancing Independence Day virus picnic at Mount Rushmore,

I've always taken #COVID19 very seriously, but South Dakota trusted our citizens to exercise their personal responsibility to keep themselves and their loved-ones safe.

That's the line Noem has taken all during the pandemic, especially regarding large public gatherings: If people don't want to have any risk, well then, they should just not go, and then everyone's happy, except maybe some people living in neighboring states who didn't themselves attend August's Sturgis Motorcycle Superduperspreader event, but nonetheless were infected by people who went to Sturgis and brought the virus home with them as a pulmonary souvenir.

And in fact, for the residents of the nursing home in Estelline, staying out of public had gone quite well, at least until two weeks ago. As the Daily Beast story notes, the facility has gotten consistently high ratings from state and federal inspectors, and it's never racked up even one serious violation, according to records. This really was one of the good places that employed all the best measures to prevent infection. The family of 90-year-old Ardyce Apland, one of the residents who died of COVID-19 in the recent outbreak, said they were impressed by the aggressive measures the nursing home had taken to keep residents safe:

Apland's son-in-law, David Herrold, said visitors were required to wear masks and met with a resident in a separate room partitioned by Plexiglas and plastic sheeting.

Visitors and the residents were kept separated. But through the plastic, Herrold could see that Apland was continuing to thrive since moving into the home in June.

"She was gaining weight, looking good," he recalled.

Ward, the nursing home administrator, said that until two weeks ago, the nursing home had been completely free of the virus, but then an asymptomatic employee tested positive and the virus rapidly spread. Since then, in addition to the 12 COVID-19 deaths, at least 16 staff members have tested positive, as have all but two of the remaining 38 residents.

Oh, looks like "personal responsibility" isn't all it's cracked up to be.

But golly, aren't we mean to be talking about all this in relation to Noem's grandmother, who very responsibly died of something else? It's not like Noem's refusal to listen to public health experts doomed the other dozen residents, just because somewhere in or near Estelline, someone irresponsibly spread the virus to the one nursing home employee. Noem likes to point out that plenty of places that have taken precautions have had outbreaks too, so really there's no difference. You know, as long as you ignore the studies showing places which have and enforce mask mandates have a lower transmission rate. But gosh, sure is rude to blame Noem for all those people dying around her grandmother. Or to say mean things like The Onion did:

Noem did post a very loving remembrance of her grandmother on Facebook, which was a nice thing to do.

She hasn't said fuck-all about the other people who died and got sick around her grandmother, however, because if their families want to mourn them, that's their responsibility, the end.

And on that lovely note, it's your OPEN THREAD!

[Daily Beast / South Dakota, Office of the Governor]

Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. Please consider a very responsible monthly donation of $5 or $10 if you can.

Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.

How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)


©2018 by Commie Girl Industries, Inc