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Annual count of state’s homeless called off due to COVID-19

January 24, 2021 GMT

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Organizers of South Dakota’s annual point-in-time count for the state’s unsheltered homeless population have cancelled the effort this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sara Hornick, Rapid City-area coordinator of homeless services for Volunteers of America, said the count was called off mainly because of a shortage of volunteers, lack of personal protective equipment and concerns about the spread of COVID-19. She said the vulnerable homeless population is quite large, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development decided against the count, the Rapid City Journal reported.

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Hornick said she’s not sure how the cancellation will affect federal funding because of all the allowances in place this year because of the virus.

The January 2020 count showed Rapid City had 353 total homeless with 192 unsheltered and 161 sheltered.

The state Department of Health on Sunday reported 185 new COVID-19 cases in the last day, increasing the total to 107,148 positive tests. The update listed nine new deaths, lifting the total number of fatalities to 217 in January and 1,705 since the start of the pandemic.

There were about 460 new cases per 100,000 people in South Dakota over the past two weeks, which ranks 41st in the country for new cases per capita, Johns Hopkins University researchers reported. One in every 524 people in South Dakota tested positive in the past week.