South Dakota unemployment claims rise as eligibility broadens


Gracie Terrall, Copy Editor

Gov. Noem announced during her April 16 press briefing that South Dakota saw 6,152 unemployment claims filed this week. Last week there was a high of over 8,000 claims. 

The average before the pandemic was around 150 claims a week. 

“We are setting some unfortunate records,” Noem said.

The governor believes next week there will be many more than the 8,000 claims made from last week, due to the pandemic employment application. Independent contractors and the self-employed will now be eligible to file for aid starting next week. 

Previously, they were not eligible for unemployment.

Yesterday, April 15, Noem signed an executive order that removed barriers for health care workers. Some of these include suspending orientations for new employees and streamlining telehealthcare and ambulance equipment supply lines. 

President Trump is planning to hold a meeting with all 50 governors later this afternoon to discuss ways of opening the country and economy back up. Noem confirmed that South Dakota will not be making any plans to relax mitigation measures as the peak infection rate is still weeks away. 

However, Noem declared that South Dakota is in a better spot than most states to restart our economy after the pandemic subsides. 

“We have given our businesses an opportunity to be innovative. They’ve had the opportunity to still deliver services to their customers… We are a place where businesses can rebound quicker in these kinds of situations,” Noem said. 

South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon spoke about the projections changing. She largely attributes this to the rate of hospitalizations being lowered. Yesterday, it was announced that South Dakota cut the number of hospital beds in half by the peak infection rate. The original projection was 5,000 and now only 2,500 beds are projected to be needed. 

Malsam-Rysdon said that the hydroxychloroquine clinical trials did not play a role in the decrease in projections, but it will help.

Noem did confirm that healthcare facilities are still preparing to have 5,000 beds available.