As controversy swirls around roadway checkpoints implemented by two South Dakota Native American tribes -- with Gov. Kristi Noem threatening legal action if the checkpoints are not dismantled -- the story of the extensive, wide-ranging efforts of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe to protect tribal and non-tribal residents on the reservation from COVID-19 has largely gone untold. The tribe's efforts have so far been successful in protecting a vulnerable population from the potentially deadly virus.
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, most South Dakota colleges and universities are planning to bring students back to campuses for in-person classes this fall, but they are not totally sure how they will keep them safe and how many will show up. In addition to the logistical challenges, colleges across the state and country face the prospect of massive financial losses if enrollments drop or students choose to learn online rather than on campus.
A group of economic development officials and a cadre of volunteers are joining forces to launch a new weekly newspaper in Kingsbury County, South Dakota, after two weekly papers closed on April 1. Using a new business model, and capitalizing on community spirit and volunteer talent, the group hopes to launch a new paper to take the place of the weeklies in De Smet and Lake Preston that closed due to financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Self-employed people and others who don't qualify for unemployment benefits are not counted in official government data on unemployment, but in some cases they face the greatest barriers to survival amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to difficulty in obtaining financial help.
With working conditions ripe for the spread of airborne illnesses, the meatpacking industry and federal regulators did not fully prioritize worker safety despite warnings and suggestions from oversight agencies. Now, as many meat plants, including the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, prepare to reopen soon due to a presidential order, experts worry that workers may be subjected to conditions that will continue to put them at risk.
Despite the valiant efforts of administrators, teachers and parents to teach students remotely during widespread school closures, experts say many children in South Dakota and across the world -- particularly lower-income students and those with existing educational challenges -- will suffer a loss of learning from which it may be difficult and costly to fully recover.
Hog farmers in South Dakota are selling animals at a loss, and may face the prospect of euthanizing pigs, if they cannot find places soon to process their finished animals. The closure of the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls and other pork processors across the Midwest due to the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reduced options for having hogs butchered and has led to a backlog of hogs that are fully grown and must be processed.
An increased need for help among low-income South Dakotans and those facing unexpected financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic is putting great stress on food banks and charities that keep poor people supplied with food and other basic needs. As the pandemic continues to harm the state economy, more people are needing food at the same time food donations and volunteers to process the food are harder to come by.
Loss of advertising and circulation revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic are putting some South Dakota weekly newspapers on the brink of closure and the downturn is being blamed for the shuttering of two weekly papers in April. Though publishers are fighting to keep their papers going amid steep declines in revenue, the closure of the weekly papers in De Smet and Lake Preston has highlighted the new and ongoing challenges they face in continuing to provide small-town South Dakotans with critical information about their communities.
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