Gov. Kristi Noem continues making claims that seem to minimize the health threat COVID-19 poses … even as her own Department of Health confirms the disease has already killed 130 South Dakotans and forced more than 800 to be hospitalized.

“Science shows that #COVID19 doesn’t impact children even on the same level as the flu, and keeping kids out of school harms them in a multitude of ways,” Noem tweeted on Thursday.

Noem continued her allegations about COVID-19 having minimal impact on children in a Friday statement.

“Thankfully, when it comes to children, the virus doesn’t have a great impact on them. In fact, it’s even less dangerous than the flu. Studies suggest that kids are less likely to contract the virus and less likely to transmit it to others,” Noem said, while then referring to a column she wrote for the national conservative outlet, The Federalist.

“Fortunately, the science seems to suggest that teachers are unlikely to be infected by students,” Noem added on Friday.

Noem’s statements prompted the Capital Journal to fact check Noem’s assertion that influenza is worse for children than COVID-19.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both COVID-19 and flu can result in these complications:


Respiratory failure

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (i.e. fluid in lungs)


Cardiac injury (e.g. heart attacks and stroke)

Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)

Worsening of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, nervous system or diabetes)

Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues

Secondary bacterial infections (i.e. infections that occur in people who have already been infected with flu or COVID-19)

However, the CDC also states that when it comes to children, “Young children are at higher risk of severe illness from flu.

“The risk of complications for healthy children is higher for flu compared to COVID-19,” the agency further states.

However, this is also not the whole story. According the CDC, school-aged children who become infected with COVID-19 are at an increased risk of contracting Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare but severe complication of the coronavirus. Officials said MIS-C can cause a child’s heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs to become inflamed.

“MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care,” the agency adds.

Also, according to Johns Hopkins University, another key difference between the flu and coronavirus is that “COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near.”

Another key difference is that CDC shows that COVID-19 has killed more than 150,000 Americans so far. For the 2018-19 flu season, the agency attributed only 34,200 deaths to the flu.

These statements from Noem came during the same week that saw her saw this during an interview on Fox News with concern to children wearing masks to mitigate COVID-19 while going to school:

“It certainly would be challenging for a child to keep a mask on for seven, eight hours a day. Even while I’ve sat with a child that had one on, five or 10 minutes is ... very difficult for them. And they are constantly touching it, taking it off, dropping it on the floor. Those all increase rates of infection.”

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