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State demands South Dakota tribes remove checkpoints from highways

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This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC/TNS)
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday, May 8, sent letters to Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and President Bear Runner of the Oglala Sioux Tribe demanding that checkpoints be removed from South Dakota state and U.S. highways, according to a news release.

If the checkpoints are not removed within the next 48 hours, the state will take necessary legal action, the news release notes.

“We are strongest when we work together; this includes our battle against COVID-19,” Noem said in the release. “I request that the tribes immediately cease interfering with or regulating traffic on US and State Highways and remove all travel checkpoints.”

On Friday, April 8, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a memorandum regarding South Dakota tribal government authority to close or restrict travel on state and U.S. highways.

"The memo makes it clear that tribes must consult with the state of South Dakota and enter into an agreement with the state before closing or restricting travel on State or US Highways. Neither consultation nor agreement among the tribal and state government occurred. Regardless, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe established checkpoints on State and US Highways to control and restrict non-tribal member travel," the news release stated.

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Also Friday, South Dakota saw an increase of 239 positive confirmed cases in one day, according to the South Dakota Department of Health, for a total of 3,144 positive cases in the state.

There are 1,044 active cases as of Friday, May 8, an increase of 198 from Thursday.

The state reported 2,069 recovered patients, up 41 from Thursday.

The state has 76 patients in the hospital. Overall, 247 people have had to be hospitalized because of COVID-19.

Deaths from the virus remain at 31, with no new deaths reported Friday.

Mobile testing

Sanford Health deployed a mobile testing laboratory for COVID-19, according to a news release.

The mobile testing laboratory will be used to administer and process tests in emerging high-needs areas.

"The mobile-testing unit is equipped with the laboratory technologies to process COVID-19 tests on-site, with results completed in one hour. The unit can be deployed to potential hot spots to expedite testing and results, which has proven to give health officials an advantage in containing the spread of the illness," according to the release.

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“Testing and timely results are a huge part of the fight against COVID-19, and we’re glad to have this new advancement," Rochelle Odenbrett, senior executive director for Sanford Laboratories, said in the release.

The first use of the mobile laboratory was to be held Friday at the Sanford Worthington (Minn.) Clinic, where more than 100 local residents who work with the elderly population will be tested for COVID-19.

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