Letter to the Editor: Reader questions legislator's COVID status

I felt it important to address the coronavirus update from Representative Haugaard in last week’s edition of the Journal. Since the piece did not appear in the “Viewpoints” section of the paper, I can only assume it is meant to be presented as fact.
While Mr. Haugaard’s numbers may be accurate, the spin he puts on them is misleading. When comparing the state’s infection and hospitalization rates for influenza to those for COVID-19, one must remember that the influenza season begins in late fall. The CDC website shows average statistics of an October start with peaks in December through March. South Dakota’s first case of COVID-19 was reported on March 10 and Governor Noem indicated last week that our peak will not hit until mid-June. Comparing the tail end of a 17-week flu season that played out under normal conditions with eight-week figures for a virus that has inflicted nearly as much damage under the most restrictive social distancing in state history is not informative or even responsible.
Given the influence elected officials enjoy in the legislature and the media, it is disappointing to see that power used to muddy the waters of public understanding.
Michelle L. Hentschel
Brandon

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Brandon, SD 57005
(605) 582-9999

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