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  1. A recent poll sponsored by South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy revealed that women are less supportive than men of Gov. Kristi Noem and the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. News Watch contacted a handful of South Dakota women to get their views on the governor and the ongoing pandemic.
  2. Two veterans of national political journalism told a South Dakota audience that they should expect ongoing turmoil in the coming months as President Donald Trump fights to retain his post and President-elect Joe Biden attempts to prepare to transition into the presidency. The pair -- USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page and Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei -- spoke during a virtual town hall sponsored by South Dakota News Watch on Nov. 9.
  3. Restrictions on movement and commerce intended to protect tribal populations from COVID-19 have hurt small businesses on Indian reservations in South Dakota. Reservation-based businesses have also struggled to take advantage of federal pandemic aid programs, leaving many owners and operators wondering if their businesses will survive.
  4. South Dakota state and county election officials have spent months preparing to host a fair, accurate and safe election amid an ongoing deadly pandemic that has led to record numbers of early and absentee votes. Some auditors have employed ingenious methods to overcome challenges and provide an orderly electoral process that will culminate on Election Day on Nov. 3.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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