Chatbots are getting thousands of queries from South Dakotans about unemployment, COVID-19

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — State government in South Dakota is using an Internet feature known as ‘chatbots’ to provide automated answers for questions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Division of Reemployment Assistance has handled many thousands of inquiries about unemployment insurance that way.

According to spokeswoman Dawn Dovre, the state Department of Labor and Regulation developed it in March as one of many tools on one page that’s all about UI claims.

“Over the last few weeks, there’s been about 200 to 300 users a day. In March, it ranged up to almost 800 a day,” Dovre said.

The state Department of Health meanwhile is referring Internet users with questions about COVID-19 symptoms to the CDC screening tool, rather than developing one specifically for South Dakota, according to spokesman Derrick Haskins.

The department has a highly detailed site,, with statistics by county updated daily and other state and federal information, including CDC guidelines, added as it becomes available.

The National Association of Chief Information Officers reports that about three-fourths of the states are using chatbots during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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