When people ask me where I'm from, I say South Dakota. When they ask me where I live, I say New York.
Each summer I come back to my home state to our family cabin at Pickerel Lake. My children and grandchildren from California meet me there. We look forward to our time in South Dakota all year long.
Things have changed in the last month. I no longer tell people I'm from South Dakota. And my family and I won't be coming back to our summer home. The science is crystal-clear. The only way we can stop COVID-19 until we have a vaccine is by staying away from each other.
The virus is spread through the air, and it is highly effective in transferring itself from person to person. We know that people will die unnecessarily if we don't curb our contact.
The governor apparently believes that she is above science in refusing to issue any life-saving measures like my New York governor and my family's California governor have. The result is that our states are watching our virus deaths begin to go down, while South Dakota's cases and deaths are increasing at an alarming rate. Experts are predicting that South Dakota will be a COVID-19 hot spot this summer.
Why should my family and I leave our safe states to enter your dangerous one? I envy the citizens of the Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge reservations, where their leaders have put in place measures to protect them. Ironically, that includes having to ban travelers from unsafe South Dakota to their nations, just as President Trump banned travelers from unsafe China during the early days of the pandemic.
I stopped saying I was from South Dakota when Gov. Noem tried to stop the Lakota from protecting themselves.
Sally Roesch Wagner
Syracuse, N.Y., May 11