Some individuals, businesses and farm operations in South Dakota are likely to declare bankruptcy in the coming months due to economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, financial experts predict. High unemployment, an increased reliance on credit cards, mounting debt and the recent loss of federal aid will cause some, including those who long felt financially stable, to face the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy.
Aug. 3, 2020 update: The number of cases in this outbreak continues to rise. The state Department of Health has now confirmed that 93 campers and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 after an outbreak took place at the popular Christian summer camp located near Keystone. Camp operators say they have closed the camp as a result. The state investigation into the outbreak is continuing.
Eight students at Northern State University in Aberdeen and one youth who attended an athletic camp at NSU have tested positive for COVID-19. All of those infected are experiencing no or only mild symptoms, but contact tracing and an investigation into the potential for more cases are ongoing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced dozens of community theaters across South Dakota to close for several months, costing the theater groups significant amounts of revenue and placing hardship on employees, volunteers and communities that thrive on theater as a creative outlet. As theater groups try to return to putting on shows, worries persist over safety at performances and whether a continued shutdown could push some organizations to the brink of closure.
Even with a mask mandate passed in July, and extensive safety measures in place, some faculty and staff at colleges and universities in South Dakota are worried that a return to in-person teaching and learning in August may cause COVID-19 outbreaks on campuses. They worry that young people who lead active social lives and may not take personal precautions during the pandemic could spread the coronavirus among university students, staff and their families.
Demand for locally grown and raised food has risen in South Dakota as the COVID-19 pandemic caused problems in the processing and supply chains for large producers of meats and vegetables. Small-scale producers are celebrating the heightened interest in their foods, but so far, expansion by existing farmers and the launch of new producers has been difficult in South Dakota.
As schools across South Dakota prepare to re-open in August, those on the front lines of the education system are planning as best they can and hoping for a safe return of students, teachers and staff to the classroom. But the COVID-19 pandemic weighs heavy on the minds and emotions of those who face big decisions in how to create a safe environment, whether to send their children back and, ultimately, if in-person learning will be worth the risk.
More than a third of South Dakota registered in-home day-care facilities -- 244 of 689 -- closed over the past five years, and financial challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic are threatening the viability of child-care centers still operating. The result is that parents who are returning to work may have fewer options for placing their children, putting families under greater stress, reducing the number of workers available to employers and potentially holding back the economic recovery from the pandemic.
In the final segment of the "Small Towns, Big Challenges" series, South Dakota News Watch presents profiles of four South Dakota small towns that are weathering the COVID-19 pandemic while charting a course to a prosperous future. Though each town is unique, many of the barriers to growth and vitality are shared in common. Additionally, in a separate article in the final segment of the series, News Watch profiles two rural health-care workers who remain deeply committed to their patients and communities.
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