Girls State Canceled
The 74th annual American Legion Auxiliary South Dakota Girls State, scheduled for June 1-6, has been canceled due to continued efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
This year’s delegates will receive a certificate of achievement and will be invited to a banquet in the fall of 2020 to celebrate their accomplishments. The girls will also have the option to enroll in and complete the State and Local Government course through remote learning.
“While no one wanted this cancellation, the health and safety of everyone, from delegates to counselors and speakers, must be our top priority,” said David C. Earnest, chair of the University of South Dakota Department of Political Science and W.O. Farber Center. “Girls State is about leadership and service to community. This year, the best service we can provide our delegates and community is to avoid unnecessary risks.”
The ALA South Dakota Girls States, co-hosted by USD and the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership, is designed to teach female high school juniors about civic engagement. Approximately 440 girls from across South Dakota are selected based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government.
Unemployment Apps Accepted
The Department of Labor and Regulation is now accepting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claim applications.
Visit dlr.sd.gov/pua for filing instructions.
A claimant can be compensated with the PUA benefit beginning Feb. 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later. The last week this benefit is payable is the week ending Dec. 26, 2020.
“Documentation showing proof of earnings should be submitted to best determine the weekly benefit payment amount,” said state Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman. “The minimum PUA benefit payment is $172 per week.”
PUA is a provision of the CARES Act providing up to 39 weeks of unemployment compensation to individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors, nonprofit employees and gig workers. This includes individuals working part time, or who otherwise would not qualify for unemployment benefits under state or federal law.
“PUA claimants must file a weekly request for payment each week to receive benefits, even though the work search requirement is currently waived,” said Secretary Hultman. “You cannot file this request until the week is over on Saturday at midnight.”
PUA claimants are eligible for the additional $600 weekly extended unemployment benefit under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provision. This does not need to be separately requested but will be paid with the regular weekly payment.
USD Cancels Summer Events
The University of South Dakota has announced that USD-hosted camps and conferences scheduled for May, June and July have been canceled due to COVID-19.
The announcement to cancel in-person conferences and camps supports continuing statewide efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While the pandemic remains fluid, USD anticipates a return to a normal fall schedule and is actively preparing for students to return.
“We are disappointed we won’t be able to gather together at a camp or conference this summer, however our top concern is the well-being of our communities,” said USD President Sheila K. Gestring. “We are grateful to everyone who has put in several hours planning these events and look forward to next summer’s programming.”
DSS Receives $2 Million
The Department of Social Services (DSS) will receive $2 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to assist South Dakotans dealing with mental health issues and substance use disorders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 situation, access to mental health and substance use treatment options is becoming more and more critical,” said DSS Secretary Laurie Gill. “These funds will have a tremendous impact in connecting more people with the care they need.”
The grant funds will be allocated to currently contracted substance use and community mental health centers.
“People are under a tremendous amount of stress which can further complicate mental health and substance use disorder issues,” Gill said. “The Department of Social Services is extremely appreciative of these new grant funds and will deploy them as quickly as possible to help South Dakotans who may be struggling. Individuals should feel reassured that they can reach out and ask for help and not have to worry about additional financial burden.”
To find help in your area, visit dss.sd.gov and click on the Behavioral Health tab or go to FindTreatment.gov.
If a friend, family member or you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions such as sadness, depression or anxiety, please reach out to the Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255) or text “Hello” to 741741. For those dealing with substance use issues, call 1.800.920.4343 or text “ONMETH” to 898211 for immediate assistance.
Drive-Up Testing In Aberdeen
Sanford Health is offering drive-up testing for COVID-19 in Aberdeen for those referred by a physician to receive testing. Test results are generally available within 24-48 hours.
Those needing a test will receive instructions on how to proceed for drive-up COVID-19 testing. Anyone without a referral from a provider will be directed to call their clinic.
The drive-up style testing is located at Sanford Aberdeen Clinic, and is clearly marked by signage, but is separate from the clinic main entrance. That’s an important step for the community as the clinic remains open and safe for other routine medical needs.
In addition, Sanford Aberdeen recently launched in-house rapid testing for COVID-19, for high-priority patients including those who are hospitalized, health care workers, and elderly residents in long-term care facilities. The rapid tests for these patients can be completed in about an hour.
Call 211 For Help
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 211 Helpline Center is providing up-to-date information, assistance in finding food or other basic essential needs, and providing hope to individuals experiencing stress and anxiety.
When individuals call 211, professionally trained staff can help connect them to food resources, other basic needs, and are always available to offer listening and support.
Simply dial 211, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and you will speak to a professional trained support specialist. Specialists are also standing by to answer text messages if you simply text your zip code to 898211, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Texts are free and confidential.