‘I Don’t Want to Be South Dakota’: WV Gov. Jim Justice Calls Out Fellow GOP Gov. Kristi Noem for Refusing Mask Mandate, Spiking Covid Deaths in Her State

Jim Justice Calls out Kristi Noem Over Lack of Mask Mandate, Spiking Covid Deaths in South Dakota

West Virginia Republican Governor Jim Justice threw some not-so-subtle shade at fellow GOP state executive Kristi Noem, over her refusing to mandate mask wearing and the spiking Covid-19 deaths in her state of South Dakota.

In an address to his constituents, Justice said that he’d had “many, many people” in his state urging him to approach the pandemic like South Dakota, where Gov. Noem has taken a hands-off strategy toward enforcing public health guidelines to stop the virus’ spread. But the West Virginia governor strongly pushed back on that idea, saying: “I don’t want to be South Dakota.” Two weeks ago, Justice had put in place a strict new mask mandate for his state, which has prompted a legal battle over whether it violates the state’s constitution.

To further make his case, Justice played a CBS Evening News report from on the ground in South Dakota, which currently has the highest per capita Covid death rate in the world.

“I don’t know how in the world we could have any desire whatsoever to be like South Dakota,” Justice said, once the CBS clip finished. “I know, I know, that we are strong-willed people in West Virginia and we have our rights and no one is trying to infringe on your rights in any way.”

“I just don’t have any other bullets in the gun, I just don’t have any other bullets,” Justice insisted. He then highlighted what he called a “profound” detail from the CBS report, which noted that one South Dakota city that has mandated mask wearing since September now has the lowest infection rate in the state.

“To say [mask wearing] doesn’t work?! Are you kidding me? Of course it works,” Justice emphasized. “Look, we’re not one to take anybody’s rights, my good Lord, I get it wholeheartedly. We don’t want to do that in any way. But you gotta help me right now. Please, please help me.”

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