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COVID-19 dominated the news in 2020
COVID-19 dominated the news in 2020
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COVID-19 dominated the news in 2020

  • Updated
  • 4 min to read

Dr. Stephen Dick receives the first COVID-19 vaccine shot on Dec. 14 in Rapid City at Monument Health.

No one was expecting a year like 2020 — from school and business closures to President Trump's visit to Mount Rushmore to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held in the middle of the pandemic to the more than 1,400 South Dakotans who lost  their lives to COVID-19.

Here's a look back at the area's biggest stories, memories of those who died, and what kept the community going through it all.


COVID-19 impacted every event, business and person this year, leaving no stone unturned.

Although there were no reported cases in South Dakota in early March, Gov. Kristi Noem said the state would prepare for a potential outbreak. The first cases were reported in the state on March 10. By the end of the month, the Rapid City Council voted to shut down businesses by a 7-2 vote

Schools closed their doors and sent kids home, and those who could started working from home.

Unemployment claims surged throughout the state and region as CARES Act dollars made their way to bank accounts and mail boxes. People had more questions than answers as summer moved on, businesses re-opened and schools considered re-opening their doors with precautions.

As 2020 drew to a close, active cases increased. The Rapid City Council considered and voted down two mask ordinances and a mask resolution. The week after, Monument Health administered its first five COVID-19 vaccines to front-line health care workers and planned for its first 975 doses.


Despite the pandemic, the Black Hills still held big events like the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and President Donald Trump's July 3 fireworks visit to Mount Rushmore.

Trump was joined by First Lady Melania Trump on Air Force and Marine One. They were escorted by Gov. Noem and U.S. Rep. John Thune.

Before the fireworks started, the president addressed the crowd and aimed his speech at calls to remove Mount Rushmore and statues across the nation after weeks of Black Lives Matter protests.

About a month later, Sturgis hosted about 460,000 people for the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which followed months of consideration to suspend the annual event.

Sturgis offered its residents 550 free COVID-19 tests following the Rally, but only to those who were asymptomatic. 

The estimated attendance at over 460,000 was about 7.5% lower than previous years. However, the city saw a 1.1% increase at the beginning of Rally week.