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Pierre student infected with COVID-19
  • Updated

(Updated From Original Online Version)

COVID-19 cases in South Dakota schools more than doubled from last week to this week, while the Pierre School District has its first student case.

For the week of Aug. 30-Sept. 5, the South Dakota Department of Health reported 452 total cases within the state’s K-12 schools. This includes 297 infected students and 155 infected staff members, which includes teachers, secretaries, maintenance workers, etc.

There is at least one COVID-19 case in 187 schools throughout the state, with 144 having one or two infections — and 43 with three or more.

The previous week, Aug. 23-29, state health officials reported 195 total COVID infections within South Dakota schools.

As of Saturday, Pierre School District had its first positive student case, according to Superintendent Kelly Glodt. Positive case numbers among staff and students as well as the community spread status will be posted on its website, https://pierre.k12.sd.us/, and updated each Monday. Individual schools will not be identified.

“We work with the Department of Health to identify any potential close contacts and notify parents of steps that need to be taken, depending on the situation,” Glodt told the Capital Journal on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday, Glodt said there had been no other reported cases in the school district and that schools are following the protocol.

“I want to thank the entire community for limiting their exposure. It is pretty amazing to me that active cases in Hughes County are 16 today in comparison to any other larger communities in the state. Being in the Moderate community spread status is admirable and [the] community should be proud of this and maintain vigilance to maintain that level rather than getting back to substantial community spread,” Glodt said Wednesday.

South Dakota colleges, universities, and technical schools, meanwhile, reported 842 cases for the week of Aug, 30 to Sept. 5., with 806 students and 36 staff infected. All 15 higher education institutions reported three or more cases, and some campuses had additional cases.

“Right now, we’re working with our university partners and making sure that we can do what we can around helping to support testing, helping and making sure individuals are aware that individual actions can be taken to decrease the risk of COVID-19, and really decrease that overall risk of transmission,” state Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said during a Tuesday news conference.

The state health department urged that students and staff continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand washing.

Pierre School District’s back to school plan for the 2020-21 school year says that parents should perform home health screenings and that children should not attend school if they are symptomatic, and individuals that test positive for COVID-19 or are in close contact with an active infection are required to be absent from school. Students are still expected to complete all assignments regardless of attendance.

Students are strongly encouraged to wear masks and staff are provided with face shields that they are required to wear when in close proximity to students for an extended period of time. Social distancing of at least six feet is expected and student drop off and pick up, mealtimes, and instructional spaces have been modified to accommodate distanced learning.

The full back to school plan and a student symptom home screening checklist are on the Pierre School District’s homepage, https://pierre.k12.sd.us/.

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Pierre Trump Boat Parade Is Saturday
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Editor's Note: Event organizer Brandi Barth mistakenly told the Capital Journal earlier this week that 13,000 people were interested in the Saturday boat parade for President Donald Trump. Thursday morning, she corrected the number to 1,400.

President Donald Trump trails Democrat Joe Biden by as many as 10 points in national public opinion polls, but this is unlikely to dampen the spirits of hundreds of Trump supporters expected to parade on the Missouri River this Saturday.

As has been the case for Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Massachusetts and California, along with several other states across the country recently, South Dakota will host its Trump boat parade in Pierre. The event is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Steamboat Park and the Missouri River Causeway.

“We are hoping to get things going around 1 p.m., but it just keeps bigger by the day, so I couldn’t even tell ya the amount of people,” event organizer Brandi Barth, of Pierre, told the Capital Journal via Facebook Messenger. “Over 1,400 people are going or interested from our event page.”

Barth announced the Pierre event last month. Since then, Trump boat parades have become a common sight from coast-to-coast.

Trump, as well as members of the first family, has certainly taken notice. There is Twitter video from Austin, Texas retweeted by the president’s son, Eric Trump.

The president himself retweeted a video of a San Diego, California event.

Not to be outdone were Trump supporters in Pensacola, Florida.

“Please come down and show your support for our amazing, President Donald J. Trump,” Barth added of the event. “No other president in our lifetime has had an impact like this on us Americans. It’s raised up some patriots that didn’t even know they were patriots. Our president has created a movement of people with such pride and love for our country, so much that we want to gather the masses to spread the love. In times such as these, one thing we definitely need is love.”

The boat parades are not without danger, however. According to multiple news outlets, including NBC News and MarketWatch, multiple boats were overtaken by high waves and began to sink during the Sept. 5 event on Lake Travis in Texas.

No injuries were reported from the sinkings.

Trump’s relatively strong popularity in South Dakota cannot be denied. He carried the state by 30 points in the matchup with Democrat Hillary Clinton four years ago, while Gov. Kristi Noem continues as a very strong supporter of the president. South Dakota has not voted for the Democratic nominee for president in 56 years.

Despite trailing in the national public opinion polls, Trump expressed optimism about the race on Monday.

“The Real Polls are starting to look GREAT! We will be having an even bigger victory than that of 2016. The Radical Left Anarchists, Agitators, Looters, and just plain Lunatics, will not be happy, but they will behave,” Trump tweeted.

Electoral College OutlineStates considered “toss-ups” for this year’s Electoral College include:

Texas — 38 electoral votes (Trump won by 9 points in 2016)

Florida — 29 electoral votes (Trump won by 1.2 points in 2016)

Pennsylvania — 20 electoral votes (Trump won by 0.7 points in 2016)

Ohio — 18 electoral votes (Trump won by 8 points in 2016)

Michigan — 16 electoral votes (Trump won by 0.3 points in 2016)

Georgia — 16 electoral votes (Trump won by 5 points in 2016)

North Carolina — 15 electoral votes (Trump won by 3.6 points in 2016)

Arizona — 11 electoral votes (Trump won by 3.5 points in 2016)

Wisconsin — 10 electoral votes (Trump won by 0.7 points in 2016)

Minnesota — 10 electoral votes (Clinton won by 1.5 points in 2016)

Iowa — 6 electoral votes (Trump won by 9.4 points in 2016)

New Hampshire — 4 electoral votes (Clinton won by 0.3 points in 2016)

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Frost, not freeze, forecast for Pierre, Fort Pierre; Black Hills gets snow
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No discouraging words about freezing temperatures in Pierre and Fort Pierre and homes on ranges around the two cities were spoken Tuesday by federal weather watchers. But it did get frosty and a record was set, according to the National Weather Service office in Aberdeen.

On Tuesday morning, Sept. 8, in Pierre the temperature fell to 37 degrees — above zero — at 11:04 p.m., breaking the previous record low for the date of 39 degrees set in 1995. The average temperature in Pierre for Sept. 8 is 53 degrees.

Pierre just missed setting a record on Wednesday morning when the temperature fell to 36 degrees, only a degree above the record low for Sept. 9 of 35 set in 1943. National Weather Service records for Pierre go back to 1892.

Those with tender, sensitive plants outdoors were counseled by the weather service to do something to protect them, such as throw a blanket over them or give them a roof over their heads.

Up in the Black Hills to the west, there was a record freeze and snow.

An inch of snow fell in Rapid City on Monday, Sept. 7, according to the weather service, the earliest snow there since records began being kept in 1888. On Tuesday, Rapid City saw its coldest Sept. 8 on record at 30 degrees at the airport; the previous record low for the date at the Rapid City airport was 36 degrees set in 1962. The low of 31 hit Tuesday downtown Rapid City also was a record going back to 1888.

Quite a bit of snow fell in parts of the Black Hills: Lead received 10 inches and other areas up to 15 inches on Monday, according to the weather service.

It’s going to get colder in the Hills this week before temperatures come back into the 80s by the weekend: down to the 20s Thursday morning, with perhaps another inch of snow, according to the weather service.

Eastern South Dakota also broke some early winter records: Sioux Falls broke its record for earliest snow when a trace fell Wednesday morning, Sept. 9. It wasn’t there long as the low temperature Wednesday was 44 degrees hit about 10 a.m.

The bigger long-term story in Sioux Falls, snow-and-rain-wise, is how little the city has received in 2020: only 13.79 inches of precipitation had fallen there by Wednesday, 7 inches below the 30-year norm for the period and about 17 inches less than fell from Jan. 1 to Sept. 9 in 2019.

It’s been a dryer than normal year across much of the state.

As winter wheat planting began this past week across the state — with 8% of the crop in the ground by Sunday, Sept. 6, ahead of the 5-year average of 3% by now — most of the state’s topsoil is short (40%) or very short (13%) of moisture.

That’s according to the weekly report released Tuesday from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Sioux Falls. The subsoil moisture was rated short over 32% of the acres, very short over 10% and adequate on 58% of the state’s acres. None of the state has a surplus of topsoil or subsoil moisture, a big change from the previous two years when there were surpluses about all year long. The state’s corn crop was mature on 23% of the acres, well ahead of the normal pace of 10% by now. Soybeans, too, are ahead of normal schedules: 40% of the crop is dropping leaves, compared with 1% a year ago and 25% by now in the five-year average.

Pierre has received only 12.55 inches of precipitation so far in 2020, which is 3.09 inches below normal for the period and just over half what fell in 2019 from Jan. 1-Sept. 8, according to the weather service.

There is not much chance of any rain in the next week in Pierre and Fort Pierre, according to the weather service’s forecast given on Wednesday. But temperatures are expected to rise all week, reaching the low 90s by Monday, Sept. 14.

Shown is a highly magnified photo of the virus that creates COVID-19.

COVID-19, By The Numbers
  • Updated

4 (Same as Monday)

Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Hughes County, according to the South Dakota Department of Health as of 4 p.m Wednesday.

16 (-9 from Monday)

Active COVID-19 cases in Hughes County as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

1 (Same as Monday)Active COVID-19 cases in Stanley County as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

6,310,663Total COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

189,147Deaths attributed to COVID-19 across the U.S. as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

15,571 (+ 271 from Monday)

Total COVID-19 cases in South Dakota, according to the state Department of Health as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

2,434 (-458 from Monday)Active COVID-19 cases in South Dakota as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

173 (Same as Monday)

Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in South Dakota.

76 (-2 from Monday)

People “currently” hospitalized for COVID-19 in South Dakota.

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Noem blasts report that Sturgis rally caused $12.2 billion in public health care costs
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Gov. Kristi Noem disputes a report, which alleges the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally created $12.2 billion worth of public health care costs and more than 260,000 COVID-19 cases throughout the nation.

“This report isn’t science; it’s fiction. Under the guise of academic research, this report is nothing short of an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis,” Noem stated Tuesday afternoon, adding the study relied in what she calls “faulty assumptions.”

The report is from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, which calls itself “an independent economic research institute that conducts research in labor economics and offers evidence-based policy advice on labor market issues.” The report states that is “initiated” by the Deutsche Post Foundation. Deutsche Post DHL is Germany’s largest employer.

Authors of the study are Dhaval Dave of Bentley University, Andrew I. Friedson of the University of Colorado Denver, Drew McNichols of the University of San Diego-California and San Diego State University, Joseph J. Sabia of San Diego State University.

“We conclude that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally generated public health costs of approximately $12.2 billion,” the researchers state.

The report adds: “South Dakota was one of eight states to never issue a statewide shelter-in-place order or a safer-at-home order. A recent assessment found South Dakota to have the least restrictive COVID-19 policy environment when assessing:

Mask wearing mandates (none);

Travel restrictions (none);

Large gathering restrictions (none);

Statewide school restarts (district-level decisions);

Reopening of bars and restaurants (full indoor-dining permitted);

Work-from-home requirements (none); and

Temperature screenings (not required).”

Noem, however, said out-of-state academics continue to be wrong about South Dakota, adding she looks forward to “honest citizens repudiating this nonsense.”

“At one point, academic modeling also told us that South Dakota would have 10,000 COVID patients in the hospital at our peak. Today, we have less than 70,” Noem said Tuesday.

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Noem Plans $400 million for small businesses impacted by COVID-19
  • Updated

Gov. Kristi Noem plans to allocate up to $400 million worth of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to assist South Dakota’s small businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Noem’s proposal, businesses would qualify for this grant if they are:

Located in South Dakota

Have at least $50,000 in gross revenue in 2019; and

Saw a reduction in business of at least 25% between March and May as a result of COVID-19.

“South Dakota is in a good spot as we rebound from COVID-19, but some of our small businesses were still hurt by this pandemic,” Noem said. “These folks are the lifeblood of our communities and economy. When I asked folks to adjust their way of life to help us flatten the curve, South Dakotans exercised their personal responsibility and responded. That adjustment significantly impacted the day-to-day operations, customer traffic, and supply chains of a number of small business owners across our state. It’s my hope that this proposal will help folks stay open and overcome the unprecedented times we’ve faced these last several months. I’m looking forward to discussing it with the Legislature.”

The proposed application period for the program would open on Oct. 12 and close Oct. 23. Grants would be rewarded once all applications are received. After the initial reward period, a second allocation of funds would be considered if additional funds are still available. Under current federal law, all funds must be distributed by Dec. 30. Grants would be awarded up to $100,000 per qualifying business.

To learn more about this framework and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in South Dakota, visit COVID.sd.gov.