Noem said that during a recent visit to a Sioux Falls classroom, a message posted on a bulletin board in a fourth-grade classroom caught her eye.
"It said 'Put your positive pants on.' That message reminded me of a lesson that is often easy to forget: an optimistic outlook can be tremendously helpful when responding to life’s challenges," the Republican governor said in a statement last week. "That’s especially true in the fight against COVID-19."
South Dakota is among several states with no statewide mask mandates. Guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that everyone should wear a facial covering to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Noem said in her message that because the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions are particularly vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus, "that leaves about 95% of the population that is not at risk for serious infection."
She also asserted that more people in her state have died from accidental injuries than from COVID-19 in the past five months.
"There is a risk associated with everything that we do in life," the governor said. "We mitigate risks by taking proper precautions when we get in our cars, when we operate farm equipment, and when we make choices about what we eat and how much we exercise. The same should be true about life as we get back to normal."
She concluded, "So let’s remember to 'put our positive pants on.' We need to emphasize facts, not fear. Let’s tell the story of what works in the fight against this virus, and let’s continue to get through this together."
Like a majority of states, South Dakota has been struggling to contain the virus' spread. More than 8.6 percent of coronavirus tests administered in the state have come back positive, according to a rolling seven-day count by Johns Hopkins University on Friday. The World Health Organization's benchmark for business re-openings is 5 percent.
Over the past week, hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts have descended on the small city of Sturgis, South Dakota, for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, despite concerns about the virus among city residents.
The event included a concert by Smash Mouth.