Rounds' audience included reporters who had traveled hundreds of miles to hear the South Dakota governor share the most current information available about the health of Sen. Tim Johnson.
Johnson, a Democrat from Vermillion, was hospitalized in Washington, DC Dec. 13. Early news reports stated he may have suffered a stroke.
Later that day, doctors diagnosed Johnson with an arteriovenous malformation in his brain, a condition that causes arteries and veins to grow abnormally large, become tangled and sometimes burst. The condition often is present from birth.
Johnson, 59, had emergency surgery late Wednesday at George Washington University Hospital after being rushed to the hospital from his office. The surgery relieved pressure on the brain and stopped the bleeding.
"The reports have been encouraging," Rounds said at the brief news conference Dec. 16. "Tim has been recovering as well as can be expected. The medical reports that you have been receiving have been the same ones that we have been receiving."
The governor added that he received positive news from Sen. Johnson's wife, Barbara,
the previous day.
"Her enthusiasm and cheer came through that message, so once again, we are very, very encouraged. They are very optimistic," Rounds said. "Tim is making good progress. Our prayers and our thoughts are with Tim's family."
"I expressed to Barbara our full support, and we were very, very encouraged," he said.
The governor also expressed a message of good will from the senator's wife.
"She just wants to let everyone know how much her family has appreciated all of the support from across the United States, and particularly in South Dakota," Rounds said. �She just wants to let everyone know how much her family has appreciated all of the support from across the United States, and particularly in South Dakota,� Rounds said.
Johnson remains in critical condition, according to news reports, but has appeared to improve since the surgery. He has responded to voices, opened his eyes and moved his limbs.
Surgeons said in a statement Dec. 15 that the senator was experiencing post-surgery swelling in his brain, but they said that was normal.
Johnson�s doctors also disclosed that when he arrived at the hospital, Johnson felt weakness on his right side. That condition probably will require physical therapy as part of his recovery.
�Once again, I want to thank all of the people of South Dakota for their continued prayers and thoughts for Tim and his family during this very difficult time for them,� Rounds said.
The governor was asked if South Dakotans would remain patient as Johnson recuperates from the surgery and any other related health problems.
�Absolutely. No question about it all,� Rounds responded. �There but by the grace of God could go anyone one of us, and it just happens that we have one of our friends, one of our colleagues, going through a tough time. When that happens, you stand by him.�
Rounds would not speculate on what steps he would take if Johnson was unable to fulfill his Senate duties.
�At this time, there is no vacancy,� he said.