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South Dakota and New Mexico supply a snapshot of the alternate realities within the U.S. pandemic.


Identified coronavirus instances in america have now surpassed 12 million, and the every day routines of an unlimited variety of People at the moment are formed by their ZIP codes and governors and beliefs concerning the virus. Do they put on masks? Go to high school in individual or on-line? Eat out? Get uncovered to the virus?

The pandemic and the nation’s disjointed response have taken the notion of two Americas to a brand new excessive. The contrasts are notably seen in South Dakota and New Mexico, states which can be residing two totally different economies: one wide-open, the opposite bolted shut.

In South Dakota, the place a conservative frontier philosophy dominates, the financial system has fared comparatively effectively, with unemployment at 3.6 %, effectively beneath the 6.9 % nationwide common. Some cities, shops and faculty districts require masks or social distancing, however, as an entire, the state has the fewest restrictions of any, with neither a masks mandate nor vital limits on companies.

However hospitalization charges have been the best within the nation, and greater than 7 % of the inhabitants has examined optimistic. The state has the nation’s second-highest price of latest instances.

Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, sees her method as a badge of freedom, criticizing restrictions as ineffective and economically damaging.

“You wouldn’t even know there’s a pandemic occurring,” stated Heidi Haugan, a mom of 4 younger youngsters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s greatest metropolis.

New Mexico has fewer instances per capita, however a extra alarming pattern line. Each day case numbers have greater than doubled over the previous two weeks. On Monday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, put the state’s two million residents beneath among the hardest restrictions within the nation, issuing a two-week stay-at-home order, banning restaurant eating, setting capability limits on grocery shops and shutting indoor malls, film theaters and gymnasiums.

And the virus has been pummeling the financial system. Unemployment in New Mexico has risen to eight % — roughly the identical as neighboring, Republican-led Arizona — and small-business homeowners voice widespread fears about closing down.

In each South Dakota and New Mexico, persons are hurting in related methods — not solely struggling financial and well being woes, however rifts with relations and pals over the virus and easy methods to struggle it.

Allison Byington, who lives in South Dakota, stated her mom not too long ago referred to as her a assassin for refusing to put on a face masks. “We don’t have a relationship anymore,” Ms. Byington stated.