Many aspects of living and learning on South Dakota college campuses appear more normal this fall, but as COVID-19 cases rise statewide due to the highly transmissible delta variant, aggressive efforts are still being made to keep students, faculty and staff safe and some students are feeling the strain of anxiety caused by the pandemic.
Recent poll results show that Republicans in South Dakota are far less likely than Democrats to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and that many GOP voters are taking cues on the pandemic from state and national political party leaders. As vaccine hesitancy remains entrenched in the state, South Dakota health and medical officials fear that "herd immunity" and a return to normal may be increasingly out of reach.
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.
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.
South Dakota saw a high number of suicides in early 2021, leading prevention experts to worry that a major health-care crisis may be emerging in the state, with young adults, health-care workers and school-age children most at risk of serious consequences and possibly death.
South Dakota saw a big drop in available spots for children at daycare centers and in-home providers during the pandemic, putting financial pressure and emotional stress on parents who need child care in order to work.
A slowdown in production of new cars during the COVID-19 pandemic has put great pressure on the used car market, leading to low used car inventories and skyrocketing prices. Meanwhile, heightened demand for cars among consumers, many flush with pandemic relief money or tax return funds, has led to a hot used car market rarely if ever seen in South Dakota.
As the vaccination rate of adults against COVID-19 has stalled in South Dakota, medical experts say more children and young adults must get vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity in the state. Getting children and young adults vaccinated will also protect them from potentially devastating long-term health effects from the coronavirus, experts say.
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