SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced Monday that she'll be sending $200 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to city and county governments, but warned the economic impact of the pandemic could last for years.
The Republican governor visited the state's largest city, Sioux Falls, to explain that cities and counties will be able to access the funds based on their population. That means Sioux Falls city leaders can get up to $41.5 million reimbursed for what they spend on addressing the coronavirus. The state has received $1.25 billion from the federal government as part of a relief package for the coronavirus pandemic, part of which the governor is still hoping can be used to make up losses in tax revenue due to the economic downturn.
Noem said she was concerned businesses and tax revenue could be hurt in the long-term by the pandemic, especially after federal relief sent to businesses and individuals dries up.
“We're going to start to see the real impact of this virus in the coming days, and we could feel it for up to one to two years,” Noem said.
She has said that the state budget that will end on June 30 looks to be in good shape, but that a special legislative session may be called in August to reshape the state's budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
The governor will be touring the state this week, visiting some of the larger cities to dole out the funds. Her visits come amid what Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken called an “appetite, at least in Sioux Falls, for us to get the cash registers ringing again.”
The mayor, who at one point during the pandemic unsuccessfully lobbied Noem to issue a stay-at-home order for the city, praised the governor's hands-off approach to business closures. He said the state was in a good position to recover economically.
But that will also depend on the state preventing a resurgence of coronavirus infections. Some states have seen spikes in cases as they rolled back lockdowns.
That hasn't happened in South Dakota, at least not yet. Health officials reported 29 new cases on Monday, while the death toll remained the same at 81. The state has seen a slight decline in new cases over the last two weeks.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Noem said she expects the state to continue to see waves of infections.
The state is expecting an influx of tourists this summer, a development Noem has actively encouraged. Visitors may be good for business and state sales tax revenues, but also pose a risk to the spread of infections.
“We are not done with the virus,” she said as she reminded people to wash their hands and socially distance when possible. She has encouraged people to consider wearing a mask in public, but did not wear one at the press conference.