SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– As we approach one year since the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in South Dakota, we went downtown in Sioux Falls Friday afternoon to find out how the pandemic has impacted people’s lives.
Reuniting with old friends:
For friends Kim Hayes and Betsy Koch, this was the first day they were able to spend time together since the pandemic began.
“We are very old, dear friends, so not seeing friends has been the hardest part,” Hayes said.
Koch said some of the good things that have come from the pandemic is getting to spend a lot of time at home with her husband. She has not seen her children a lot, which has made her realize just how important family is.
“We just slowed down, we stayed home…we cooked every meal, that got a little old,” Hayes said. “So going out for a meal, I did it for the first time a couple weeks ago, and it was just incredible to have my meal served to me and have the dirty dishes taken away. It was great.”
Hayes says her family lives in town, and they have masked up and socially distanced the entire time but have been able to see one another.
Hayes has grandchildren in high school and middle school and applauds the Sioux Falls School District for being safe, staying opened and educating their students to keep themselves and others safe.
Koch was able to take her grandchildren to a swimming lesson this week for the first time in over a year.
“I will have to say, it sort of panicked me when I looked at 37 kids in the pool and all the adults. I have not been hardly out of my house, and so it took me a while to get back into the scheme of things with swimming, with children, piano recitals that kind of thing,” Koch said. “It’s a whole new ballgame for our age.”
This was Koch’s first time eating out since the pandemic began and she said the restaurants are “knocking themselves out.” She said walking in masked, getting to sit by themselves and having everything very clean made her feel safe.
They are both looking forward to getting to spend more time with friends and family, as well as going to large gatherings again.
Joshua Belai is a student at South Dakota State University. Last spring, he transitioned to online learning and then returned to classes in the hybrid format during the fall semester.
He said although “it’s all a little weird,” his life has not been too drastically affected by the pandemic.
Transitioning to online classes was a little difficult and he didn’t learn as much, Belai said. But he said the university and professors were very accommodating and understanding. He said that going to hybrid classes was different, but after a little bit, he got adjusted and it kind of became the “new normal.”
He found one of the best things to happen since the start of the pandemic was being able to have a little more time to yourself to figure things out.
Belai said he is most excited to be able to start going to concerts and being able to visit others.
Considering moving because of the pandemic:
Linda and Tim Nichols are Illinois residents who are considering relocating to South Dakota.
Illinois is pretty locked down, Linda said. For that reason, the couple is spending some time in South Dakota and deciding if they would like to relocate.
“It’s a breath of fresh air here, believe me,” Tim said.
Linda ended up closing her business during the pandemic, although the pandemic was not the only reason she decided to shut down.
Tim said the best part is that they have a duplex with their daughter next door, so they were able to see their grandkids.
They have continued to get together with family throughout the pandemic, as well as going out to the places that are still open and supporting businesses that are trying to stay open, especially local businesses, Linda said.
“We were just commenting about, when we walk down here, there isn’t a place here that’s closed,” Tim said. “That’s a reflection on your state.”
He says that they are very encouraged by that.
The couple is looking forward to being around people without worrying. They are also ready to go attend big events and more church events.
Anticipating returning back to normal:
Joey Jurgensen, Sioux Falls resident, was able to work for the Census Bureau during the pandemic, but now is in-between jobs.
“I think I have been actually spending more time with family than I was before,” Jurgensen said.
She relocated to Sioux Falls two years ago from Virginia, which she says was great because it was nice to be in a place where she could continue going out, with precautions.
As more people are getting vaccinated, Jurgensen is excited to get life more back to normal.