More than 260 COVID-19 cases have been linked with the 10-day motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota
Last month, 400,000 motorcycle enthusiasts over the course of 10-days descended on the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota and now more than 260 people have contracted COVID-19 as a result of the event and one man in his 60s just died.
The rally lasted from August 7 to August 16 and saw people drive in from all over the nation to congregate in the small town of Sturgis, South Dakota where the event took place both outside and inside bars, restaurants, and tattoo shops. Very few attendants wore masks throughout the course of the 10-day rally and now new COVID-19 outbreaks have been traced back to the event.
The Washington Post reported that there have been more than 260 COVID-19 cases across 11 states that have been directly linked with attendants of the motorcycle rally. Kris Ehresmann, infectious-disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health, just reported that a man in his 60s, with underlying conditions, was hospitalized in the ICU shortly after attending the rally and eventually died.
Since the rally ended two weeks ago, the Midwest and the Dakotas are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases, though that can also be attributed to other factors. However, the rally is believed to be the largest hosted gathering since the onset of the pandemic and in South Dakota, there were virtually no restrictions on businesses that would have prohibited the rally from taking place. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem actually welcomed the event, hoping it would revitalize the economy.
Photos and videos from the event show a sea of largely unmasked crowds, many wearing Trump 2020 gear and shirts that read “Screw Covid I went to Sturgis.”
One reporter in the area shared anecdotes of how bikers who contracted the virus don’t want to admit or acknowledge they acquired it at the rally.
Per the AP, South Dakota itself has 105 of the 260+ reported COVID-19 cases linked with the rally. Victor Huber, a biomedical sciences professor at the University of South Dakota, told NBC News that the infection rate in South Dakota before the rally had been “hovering at 8 to 10 percent. The last couple weeks, it’s been up over 15 percent.”
Dr. Sadiya Khan, an epidemiologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, also told NBC News that Sturgis and the return to college campuses are driving the increase in cases in the area.
“Two things clearly appear to be driving it,” Khan said. “The motorcycle rally in Sturgis, as well as students returning to college and universities. The timeline seems to support that.”
State Health Officials also learned that some individuals who knowingly tested positive for the virus attended the rally while infectious.