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Danielle Ferguson

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  1. 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.
  2. A former South Dakota wildlife official took a hard line against the Nest Predator Bounty Program during an online panel discussion this week, saying the program was ramrodded into existence by Gov. Kristi Noem and is not ethical or effective. Current state wildlife leaders on the panel disagreed, and said the program is protecting pheasants and getting more children engaged in the outdoors.
  3. Studies show that high stress during the COVID-19 pandemic has led many Americans to gain weight, and health experts in South Dakota are concerned that adults and children who put on weight may suffer long-term negative physical and mental health outcomes.
  4. Native American government advocates are pushing to ensure that South Dakota's largest minority group is not cut out of the ongoing legislative redistricting process and that the end result of the process does not make it harder for Natives to get elected or have influence at the voting booth.
  5. Retail sales of alcohol rose by 21% and retail sales of tobacco rose by 42% in South Dakota in 2020, which experts attribute to stress and isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some addiction programs are already seeing a rise in clients, and experts worry more long-term physical and mental health consequences may result.
  6. A series of juvenile justice reforms have been implemented in South Dakota over the past decade, and officials say the efforts have reduced the number of youths sent to locked facilities, lowered recidivism and kept more young offenders out of the adult justice system. But data show that youths of color, including Native Americans and Black youths who make up the majority of the youth offender population in South Dakota, are not benefitting as much as white juvenile offenders.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. A treatment method that uses medications to reduce cravings for people addicted to opioids is being used more frequently to prevent overdoses and save lives in South Dakota, but addiction experts and law enforcement leaders are trying to reduce barriers that prevent wider use across the state.
  10. 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.
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