Studies show that high stress during the COVID-19 pandemic has led many Americans to gain weight, and health experts in South Dakota are concerned that adults and children who put on weight may suffer long-term negative physical and mental health outcomes.
Native American government advocates are pushing to ensure that South Dakota's largest minority group is not cut out of the ongoing legislative redistricting process and that the end result of the process does not make it harder for Natives to get elected or have influence at the voting booth.
South Dakota is a top destination for pheasant hunters, but the state has seen a steady decline in the lucrative hunting industry and the Nest Predator Bounty Program is one way the state hopes to increase bird numbers.
No scientific evidence exists to show that the controversial South Dakota Nest Predator Bounty Program is working to boost pheasant and duck populations. Yet some state officials insist the program, in which adults and children have been paid $1.2 million to trap and kill more than 134,000 animals, is helping wildlife and preserving trapping traditions.
A long-range nursing shortage in South Dakota only got worse during the COVID-19 pandemic as more nurses than usual exited the field, left the state or retired early. Now, as the delta variant raises concern over the potential for higher COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, healthcare experts worry patient care could be affected at South Dakota hospitals.
Retail sales of alcohol rose by 21% and retail sales of tobacco rose by 42% in South Dakota in 2020, which experts attribute to stress and isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some addiction programs are already seeing a rise in clients, and experts worry more long-term physical and mental health consequences may result.
A series of juvenile justice reforms have been implemented in South Dakota over the past decade, and officials say the efforts have reduced the number of youths sent to locked facilities, lowered recidivism and kept more young offenders out of the adult justice system. But data show that youths of color, including Native Americans and Black youths who make up the majority of the youth offender population in South Dakota, are not benefitting as much as white juvenile offenders.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a temporary halt to abortions at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls in 2020, reducing the number of abortions that took place at the state's only clinic that performs them. However, data from neighboring states shows that hundreds of pregnant South Dakota women traveled to other states to get the procedures during the pause.
Most South Dakota school officials are planning for in-person teaching in fall 2021 and expect that masks and vaccinations against COVID-19 will be optional for students, faculty and staff. But they are keeping a close eye, and an open mind, in regard to outbreaks of COVID-19 and its variants that could prompt changes to safety protocols in schools.
Only half of South Dakota school districts offer formal summer school programs, and some of those that do are seeing increased enrollments as educators and parents seek to help students who fell behind during the COVID-19 pandemic catch up or stay on track with their education. Some experts worry that students who faced upheaval in learning during the pandemic may fall further behind their peers and could be unable to catch up.
Support Nonprofit Investigative Journalism in South Dakota
South Dakota News Watch is funded by contributions from readers like you. All content is shared, free of charge, with media outlets across the state. To support our public service journalism, please consider making a contribution today.