South Dakota state lawmaker, 74, dies of coronavirus

A state lawmaker on Friday became the third person to die from the novel coronavirus in South Dakota, which is among a handful of states that have not issued stay-at-home orders.

Rep. Bob Glanzer, 74, R-Huron, tested positive for the virus, also known as COVID-19, on March 22. He had been in critical condition at a hospital in Sioux Falls, KELO-TV reported.

“Tonight at 7:57 p.m. our dad, grandpa, uncle, husband and friend went to heaven,” Glanzer’s son, Tom Glanzer, wrote on Facebook. “No words can describe the sorrow, but no words can describe the joy of knowing he is with God for eternity.”

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The son said his mother, Penny, also has coronavirus but is “doing amazing,” KELO reported.

Several other members of Glanzer's family have contracted the virus, including Glanzer's niece Mari Hofer, 51, who died last Saturday.

“The simple fact that our family loves each other is probably what caused this to spread,” Tom Glanzer said.

Majority Leader Lee Qualm called Glanzer “a true statesman, an amazing man of God and a great asset to the SD House of Representatives.”

Glanzer's son added, “It is not lost on me that while the sun was falling, but still crested above the horizon of the prairie my father was rising to the glory of heaven.”

He told KELO the family wasn’t able to be with his father when he died because of the highly contagious nature of the disease.

While Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has predicted 30-70 percent of the state could contract the virus, this week she remained steadfast over not issuing a stay-at-home order and instead urged personal responsibility, Sioux City, Iowa's KTIV-TV reported.

“This has been a constant balance and analysis that we have been looking at and analyzing is how long can people change their way of life, how long can they stay at home, how long can children stay out of school, how long before we don't have any businesses left to employ people and put food on their table, how long can we keep people out of South Dakota or not let any South Dakotans leave the state," Noem said in a news conference Friday, according to KTIV.

In March, Noem issued an executive order that stresses social distancing, working from home and hand washing but left the decision to close businesses up to local officials.

She said this week the state's sparse population would help slow the spread of the virus.

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Meanwhile, the governors of Alabama and Missouri issued stay-at-home orders Friday, leaving just Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina as well as South Dakota, to take that action.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.