07.09.20

Half-Time Pep Talk

The year 2020 is only half written, but already it’s one for the history books.  Everyone, whether 8 or 78, will remember this year as one unlike any other.  While it is very common to set resolutions and goals on New Year’s Day, this year is unique enough to deserve a half-time review, and possibly even a little pep talk.

Farmers probably always subconsciously perform a half-time transition in July.  You put away the planter and fertilizer while you tune up the combines.  The old, outdated saying, “knee-high by the  of4th July” means farmers are starting to anticipate harvest. While farming always has an element of uncertainty that is beyond our control, 2020 has delivered previously unexperienced obstacles due to COVID-19. These include processing and ethanol plant shutdowns and shortages in supply chains. Despite these uncertainties, our farmers and ranchers continue to be innovative and adapt to a tough year.   

Our kids, mid-summer, are usually beginning to consider the transition back to school after a summer packed with sports and recreation.  This year has been different, however, as our kids haven’t had the same rigorous summer recreation activities. They also have been away from their classrooms for an extended period of time, instead of the normal short summer. 

This week, I met virtually with superintendents from schools all across the state. Their message was consistent: we need to safely and efficiently get our kids back in school this fall. What August and September will look like still remains to be seen. One thing that is certain is that those decisions will be made by those who know their students and teachers best: local school board members and administrators. What works best in Sioux Falls might not be what’s best in Rapid City, and what works in Spearfish might not work in Sisseton. The people who know their communities best will make the best decision for their communities.

This time of year, our main street businesses are usually holding their summer crazy days, clearing out inventory to make room for a new season. Prior to the March outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, our economy was soaring. Jobs were being created, unemployment was at record lows and wages were rising. But when businesses needed to isolate for health safety due to the virus, our economy took an immediate and sharp downturn.

So this July, instead of our hospitality industry being at the height of its activity, we’re just moving toward reopening our economy and getting people back to work. South Dakotans have done a good job of distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and we must continue to take precautions to open our economy safely and effectively.

We will need to be prepared to continue to deal with this public health crisis until our scientists and doctors successfully develop, test and deploy vaccines and therapeutic treatments to combat COVID-19.

It’s halftime, South Dakota. We’ve had a tough first half, but the year is not over. This year has been a game unlike one we’ve ever played. We need to dig deeper than we have before, and figure out how to put in our strongest effort during this challenging time. We come from tough stock, and I know we can do it.