Sturgis Covid-19 Fallout Continues as First Attendee Dies, Thousands More Infected


The Sturgis motorcycle rally, which took place in Sturgis, South Dakota in August, drew more than 460,000 vehicles, but did not require attendees to wear masks or practice social distancing. It included performances by Buckcherry, Trapt, Fozzy, Drowning Pool, Quiet Riot, Smash Mouth, Adelitas Way, Saving Abel, and Night Ranger; video from those shows doesn’t show anyone taking precautions to curb the spread of the virus.

A mid-August report showed only 7 confirmed cases of Covid-19 had resulted from the rally, but as we all know, it takes this insidious disease time to show itself, and that’s exactly what has happened: a report last week showed that over 100 cases tracked back to Sturgis had spread across eight states, and a new report by The New York Times yesterday shows the figure has shot up to 305 in Meade County, where Sturgis is held, with South Dakota as a whole reporting more than 2,000 new cases in the past week (not necessarily linked to Sturgis), setting single-day records several times.

Those figures don’t even count Sturgis attendees from other states. According to The Star Tribune, “An analysis of anonymous cell phone data from Camber Systems, a firm that aggregates cell phone activity for health researchers, found that 61% of all the counties in the U.S. have been visited by someone who attended Sturgis, creating a travel hub that was comparable to a major U.S. city.” What’s more, the numbers are all certainly undercounts, as many folks who attended Sturgis refuse to be tested (and even if that weren’t a factor, many ill people everywhere simply do not end up getting tested, especially if their symptoms aren’t severe).

Indeed, a Minnesota man has become the first confirmed Covid-19 death as a result of attending Sturgis. He was 60 years old, had underlying health conditions, and had been hospitalized for several weeks, according to the Times.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican, says she still does not plan to tighten restrictions in the state or institute a mask order. “I won’t be changing my recommendations that I can see in the near future,” she said. “I think this is where we expected to be. None of this is a surprise, and we will continue to evaluate and see what the future looks like.”

The future does not look good, Kristi. But, ya know, freedom is so important!

The South Dakota State Fair is scheduled to begin in Huron today and last through Labor Day.

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