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South Dakota legislator tests positive for COVID-19

Sen. Reynold Nesiba told reporters he tested positive on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 12. The 2022 legislative session kicked off on Tuesday, without a mask mandate in place.

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Legislators listen as Governor Kristi Noem delivers her State of the State address on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 in the house chambers in the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre.
Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic

PIERRE, S.D. — A South Dakota legislator says he has tested positive for COVID-19, the first case of the 2022 legislative session.

Sioux Falls Democrat Sen. Reynold Nesiba confirmed to Forum News Service on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 12, that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Nesiba, who is vaccinated and boosted, said he is isolating and does not anticipate receiving further medical care.

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Sen. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls
JOHNNY SUNDBY

Unlike last year , when the South Dakota Senate required masks for visitors in the gallery, the Statehouse in Pierre has no COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place for the 2022 legislative session, despite pandemic-related hospitalizations hitting all-time highs in the state.

On Tuesday, the state charted the highest number of active cases (20,475) since the virus first arrived in the state in early 2020. The state recorded the first COVID-19 death of a child under the age of 10 on Wednesday.

The two chambers met in joint session — largely mask-less — Tuesday for Gov. Kristi Noem's state of the state address. During her speech, Noem largely treated the pandemic as a past-tense issue for the state, noting only that "help would come soon to the state's burdened health care workers."

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"The Legislature should be proactive and not reactive," Nesiba said in a statement. "We should be following CDC guidelines and that includes vaccinations, boosters, and mask use to mitigate spread."

On Thursday, the Legislature's procedure committee meets. Nesiba called on leaders in the committee to adopt mitigation efforts in both chambers.

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