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  1. Residents of long-term care facilities in South Dakota are suffering mental and physical declines due to isolation and sensory deprivation caused by visitation and mobility restrictions put in place to protect them from infection by the deadly coronavirus. The preventative measures have caused anguish for residents and their loved ones, and a recent effort to use federal aid money to implement testing or other measures to mitigate isolation has failed.
  2. Home sales and prices are up in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and elsewhere in South Dakota, driven by what realtors say is a rise in relocations to the state by out-of-state residents seeking lower taxes, more home for their money, wide-open spaces and freedom from restrictions related to COVID-19 imposed by other states.
  3. Facing the challenge of remote learning on an isolated reservation with limited access to computers and wireless service, leaders of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in central South Dakota used federal funding, help from a non-profit tech firm and a dose of ingenuity to create their own local network to help children learn amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. To protect vulnerable residents, Native American educators have moved almost exclusively to remote teaching and learning, which is creating new challenges to an already stressed education system. Even after improving access to computers and the internet, Native educators worry that critical educational, spiritual and emotional connections created during in-person learning cannot be duplicated and that Native students will fall further behind in their learning.
  5. A first version of a CDC report with safety recommendations for workers at the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, where a major COVID-19 outbreak occurred, was approved for release in April but was pulled back and re-issued the next day with new language that some members of Congress say "watered down" the urgency and importance of the recommended safety measures. Inquiries are underway in Washington, D.C. to discover who softened the report language and why.
  6. South Dakota laws place a great burden on pedestrians to be safe on or along state roadways and create a high legal standard for prosecutors or civil attorneys to prove that drivers were responsible in vehicle versus pedestrian accidents, legal experts say. The laws may come into play soon as an investigation continues into a fatal accident involving South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who struck and killed Joseph Boever on a rural highway on Sept. 12.
  7. Producers of lamb meat and wool in South Dakota have seen demand and market prices plummet during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the industry made up mostly of small producers is weathering the storm by adapting and changing processes.
  8. South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravsnborg said he thought he hit a deer on Sept. 12, when in fact he had struck and killed 55-year-old Joseph Boever while driving on U.S. Highway 14 west of Highmore. Ravnsborg left the scene that night and found Boever's body the next morning upon return. An accident reconstruction expert says it is improbable that Ravnsborg would not have known he struck a person, and another expert said it could be negligence if Ravnsborg's car left the travel lane and struck Boever on the shoulder.
  9. Two cousins who were close to the man killed when struck by a car driven by South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg are concerned that investigators may not be seeking the full truth about what happened to their cousin. Joseph Boever, 55, was stuck and killed the night of Saturday, Sept. 12 by a car driven by Ravnsborg, who was driving home from a GOP event in Redfield around 10:30 p.m. Ravnsborg, who has a history of speeding violations, told authorities he thought he had struck a deer.
  10. Despite the pandemic and frequent claims by President Donald Trump that the 2020 general election will be rife with fraud, South Dakota auditors and election officials say they are ready to hold a fair, accurate and timely election that will produce reliable results. Safeguards are in place to ensure accurate voting by mail; preparations are being made to process a record number of absentee ballots; and precautions are being taken to make in-person voting at polling sites as safe as possible.
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About News Watch
South Dakota News Watch is an independent, nonprofit organization reporting stories that shed light on the issues and concerns of all citizens. As 2019 ends, we would like to thank our supporters for their generous contributions during the matching funds campaign and all year long. Because of you, South Dakota News Watch will continue the mission of bringing in-depth issues to light into the new year and beyond.