NEW: Noem demands retraction from CNN for false COVID-19 story in South Dakota

February 9, 2022

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem responded to a false CNN report claiming that hospitalizations are “surging” in Pennington County. The report, which aired on February 8, 2022, also shamed attendees of the Black Hills Stock Show and violated HIPPA by improperly including footage of patients.

“South Dakotans deserve the facts so that they can make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones. Unfortunately, CNN’s claims about COVID-19 in Pennington County were not factual,” said Governor Noem. “This political hit job ignored the mountains of factual data that we sent to them. We are demanding a correction.”

“South Dakota will continue to focus on working together to take care of people who get sick with COVID-19,” Noem continued. “We will not allow divisive out-of-state media outlets to get in the way of the partnerships between the State of South Dakota and our excellent hospital systems.”

Because of HIPAA violations in CNN’s coverage, Monument Health has also requested that the false story be retracted:

“A six-hour visit by CNN was summarized inaccurately in the story referenced. The quotes pulled were taken out of context to support a narrative that simply is not true,” said Robin Zebroski, Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications at Monument Health. “Monument Health has seen a steady decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations in recent weeks, and the overall testing positivity rate has gone down as well. We strongly support Governor Noem and are disappointed by the CNN report.”

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Pennington County peaked three weeks ago, on January 18, 2022. Since then, they have declined by 32%.

“CNN did not reach out to the South Dakota Department of Health for this story. The Department of Health and the Governor’s Office provided data to be included in their story, but CNN ignored it,” said Joan Adam, Interim Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health. “Governor Noem and the Department of Health will continue to work with our hospital systems to take care of people and ensure that up-to-date data is available to all South Dakotans.