Some shirts at the event, which didn’t require masks, read ‘Screw Covid I went to Sturgis’
As COVID-19 cases surpass five million in the U.S. — and deaths exceed 162K, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine — tens of thousands of motorcyclists rode into South Dakota for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — most of which were unmasked and not following social distancing guidelines.
“No, we didn’t take any precautions,” Rally attendee Jim Busch told the New York Times, adding that he thinks the coronavirus pandemic, which he refers to as a “situation,” is “manufactured. “There’s ulterior motives behind this, so we’re not concerned.”
"No, we didn't take any precautions." Hear from some of the thousands of bikers who came to Sturgis, South Dakota, for the annual motorcycle rally, despite concerns about spreading the coronavirus and over the objections of some residents.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 8, 2020
I bet the party in Sturgis last night was pretty deadly.
— Hamish Mitchell (@H_MitchellPhoto) August 9, 2020
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a 10-day event that is estimated to attract about 250,000 attendees this year. While this number is half of last year’s attendance, it’s still a shockingly large event amid a global pandemic — and, according to the Times, among the country’s largest public gatherings since the start of the pandemic in the U.S.
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.”
Sturgis 2020 pic.twitter.com/q0QCBaqkvk
— Roy E (@RoyE55694555) August 9, 2020
There was also a larger-than-life float dedicated to Trump.
Sturgis last night 8/8/20 pic.twitter.com/SnlVZ6ls0g
— Jennifer T (@jennifer_marj) August 9, 2020
Masks were not required at the event in South Dakota, one of several states that didn’t put in place a lockdown.
“We provided them all with masks. Some of them choose to wear them, some of them don’t,” local business owner Debbie Mortimer tells TODAY. The event did, however, provide hand sanitizer stations.
The U.S. has hit 5 million reported coronavirus cases, about a quarter of all cases worldwide. @KathyParkNBC has the latest from Sturgis, South Dakota, where an annual motorcycle rally, which gathers hundreds of thousands, will be held without a mask requirement. pic.twitter.com/SuEDVpwrJ9
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 9, 2020
The event also boasts a long lineup of musical guests, including last night’s performers the Guess Who and Chancey Williams. Also on the lineup are Smash Mouth, Buckcherry, Lit, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and more. While headliners were seen performing outside, concerts were also held indoors in bars, including Full Throttle Saloon seen below.
According to CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner, this year’s gathering has the potential to be a “super spreader” event.
“I’m less concerned of people riding their bikes through the hills than I am about what happens at night in bars and restaurants and hotels and on the streets in close quarters. When you look at the videos from Sturgis now, there are very few people wearing masks. We know it’s super-contagious, and it will spread from person to person who will take it back to their homes,” Reiner explained.
“We heard a visitor saying that they were just tired of the virus and looking to have some fun. Well, the virus doesn’t really care,” he continued. “The virus doesn’t care if they’re tired about this. The virus will infect whoever it can get close to, so this is a ridiculous thing to have in the middle of the pandemic.”
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.