Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: Sheriff Reports Biggest Crowds In Years As Fauci 'Very Concerned' Event Will Cause New Surge

ToplineLocal law enforcement stated Saturday that the Sturgis motorcycle rally has attracted the largest crowds in its history. This is fueling fears that the huge gathering of motorcyclists will again be a major event in the face of rapid expansion of delta variants.Motorcyclists attend the 81st Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, August 08 in Sturgis (... [+] South Dakota). Getty ImagesThe Key FactsSouth Dakota Sheriff Ron Merwin stated Saturday that there were more people at the rally than in the 31 years Ive done this. The Rapid City Journal reports that Merwin and Sturgis Police Chief Geody vanDewater both said that calls for law enforcement have increased dramatically over the past years. According to the Meade County Sheriff's Office, calls to law enforcement have increased by 30%. The Sturgis Police report that they responded to twice the number of calls as last year. This includes violations of open container laws and traffic incidents. Although masks are not required at the rally officials stated that they will make Covid-19 testing, masks, and hand sanitizer readily available. They also temporarily allow alcohol to be consumed outside only using a souvenir cup to keep people from gathering indoors. Public health officials are worried about the rally which is expected to attract 700,000.Chief CriticFauci stated Sunday that it is understandable that people want the freedom to do the things they love. There comes a point when you have to deal with a public crisis that could affect you and your family.Important QuoteAccording to Christina Steele, a spokesperson for the city of Sturgis, the people who visited said they came from states that were in lockdown for so many years and they want to enjoy a normal summer vacation. The people here don't want to discuss Covid. They just want to have fun.Big Number$800 million. According to the Post, that's how much Sturgis generates in local economic sales. This is based on data from South Dakota Department of Tourism.What to WatchThrough August 15, the 10-day Sturgis festival will be continuing. There are many events at the rally where large crowds will gather, including concerts. Governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem is a Republican who backed the Sturgis rally that took place amid the pandemic. She will participate in a charity ride at Monday's rally.Important BackgroundThe annual Sturgis rally is one of the most controversial mass gatherings that took place during the Covid-19 pandemic. It attracted approximately 460,000 people last year, despite the fact that Covid-19 was on the rise and vaccines weren't yet available. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have linked at least 649 Covid-19-related cases to the 2020 rally and claimed that the event resulted a widespread transmission. However, one study suggests that the rally could have led to as many as 250,000 cases. The Sturgis rally this year comes amid a surge in Covid-19 cases linked to the highly transmissible Delta variant. Events like the New York Auto Show or the New Orleans Jazz Fest were canceled due to concerns about the variant. Recent outbreaks among Milwaukee Bucks fans who celebrated the team during the NBA playoffs raise concerns about the possibility of Covid-19 epidemics in large numbers. Nearly 500 Covid-19 cases were reported by people who attended the playoffs in Wisconsin's Deer District in July, despite it being outside.Continue readingSturgis Motorcycle Rally Starts During Delta Covid Surge (Forbes).During the rally's first days, Sturgis police and Meade County sheriff are busy (Rapid City Journal).PHOTOS: Saturday Night's 81st Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (Rapid City Journal).Sturgis Motorcycle Rally gets revved up, drawing thousands of people and increasing delta superspreader fear (Washington Post).Despite the Covid variant, Sturgis bike rally revs up (Associated Press).Live updates and coverage of the Coronavirus