With COVID-19 vaccine approval at hand, experts say the rural nature of South Dakota, the state's limited capability to store and distribute the vaccine and reluctance by some residents to take the vaccine could slow the delivery and reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines.
As COVID-19 continues to hospitalize and kill more people in South Dakota, declining capacity in state hospitals to care for patients with the most severe symptoms has forced some patients to board planes for emergency treatment in other states. Medical experts warn the situation could worsen if a post-Thanksgiving spike in COVID-19 cases arrives as expected or if coronavirus cases continue to increase for any reason.
A recent poll of South Dakota residents found that support is far lower among women compared to men for Gov. Kristi Noem, her policies and the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts say there are several reasons that South Dakota women, who often are primary caretakers of children and the elderly, and who have suffered greater economic and emotional burdens due to the coronavirus, are less approving of Noem's performance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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