- South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s 98-year-old grandmother Aldys Arnold died on November 22.
- She was living at a nursing home in Estelline, South Dakota, where 12 residents died from COVID-19-related causes between November 14 and November 28, the facility’s administrator Mike Ward told the Daily Beast.
- Arnold tested negative for COVID-19 before her death.
- Noem has downplayed the seriousness of COVID-19 for months and has not put a mask mandate in place to help prevent the spread of the virus in the state.
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South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s grandmother died in a nursing home hit by COVID-19 in November, as the politician continued to downplay the seriousness of the virus and avoided putting a mask mandate in place despite a rising case count in the state.
Noem’s 98-year-old grandmother Aldys Arnold tested negative for COVID-19 before she died on November 22, but 12 others at Estelline Nursing Home and Care Center in South Dakota died from “COVID-related” causes between November 14 and 28, the facility’s administrator Mike Ward told the Daily Beast.
South Dakota is one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19, and the last week’s positivity rate was over 41%, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Mayors have issued local regulations to stop the spread of COVID-19, but Noem has not put any state-wide mask mandates in place.
Insider’s Connor Perrett previously reported that the South Dakota Department of Health reported a record 54 new deaths from COVID-19 on November 28. That same day, Noem encouraged state residents in a tweet to go shopping, writing that small “businesses are the lifeblood of so many South Dakota communities.”
Families of Estelline residents who died from COVID-19 told the Daily Beast the facility had strict measures in place to stop the spread of the virus, but they were unsuccessful.
Ward told the Daily Beast that the virus likely spread through an asymptomatic staffer, who is believed to have caught COVID-19 outside the facility.
“It’s awful,” told the outlet on Monday. “I just don’t know what to say. It’s devastating.”
Noem did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.