At a rally in South Dakota on Friday night, Trump praised Gov. Kristi Noem, who was among a number of governors who did not impose statewide stay-at-home orders during the pandemic.
“Unlike other governors, she never locked down South Dakota,” Trump said. “They all say, ‘Oh, I kept it open, I kept it open.’ They didn’t keep it open.”
After local, state and federal coronavirus measures began shutting down American public life in March 2020, Kemp moved to reopen some businesses and restaurants about a month later in April. Trump said he “strongly” disagreed with the governor’s decision at the time.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who conservatives often praise for his rejection of public health authorities’ guidance during the pandemic, moved to reopen Florida at the beginning of May.
A current uptick of Covid-19 cases has led to a resurgence in pushback against potential further mask mandates, including a GOP-led effort in the Senate to block federal mandates. Many Americans have moved on from previously widespread pandemic precautions, and even President Joe Biden has displayed resistance to masking after the first lady recently tested positive.
Kemp, whose relationship with Trump turned fraught after the former president started making false claims about election fraud in the state, won reelection by around 7.5 percentage points.