Covid Cases Spike After Sturgis Motorcycle Rally—Again

One of the most prominent rises in Covid cases in South Dakota, which was a section that had hosted thousands of motorcyclists earlier in the month at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, is now in a rural area of South Dakota. This is a sign that the rally served as a repeat performance of 2020's superspreader event.

A group photo was taken by a large number of unmasked motorcycle enthusiasts at the 81st Annual... [+] Sturgis Motorcyclist Rally, August 8-2021 in Sturgis (South Dakota). Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Key Facts

According to a New York Times tracker Meade County is adding 29 new Covid patients per day, while Lawrence County adds 17 each day. This is despite having had days with very few new Covid cases. Although the numbers are not as high as those in urban areas, it is a significant increase for these two counties which have a combined population of less than 30,000. According to the Times, Meade County saw the sharpest increase in Covid cases in the United States compared to just two weeks ago. There was a 1,233% rise in cases. With a 1,120% rise in cases, Lawrence County is the third-highest in the U.S. The two counties are only behind tiny Richland County, eastern Montana, for the most recent sharp increase in cases. The hospitals have seen an increase of more than 200%, but neither county has recorded any new Covid-19 deaths. These tend to be slower than increases in hospitalizations and cases. According to the South Dakota Department of Health the testing positivity rate for the week of August 13-19 was 33.3% in Meade County. Lawrence County's rate was at 25.5%.

Big Number

525,768. This is how many motorcycles passed through Sturgis this year during the ten-day rally. It was the largest number since 2015. Sturgis is home to approximately 7,000 residents.

Important Background

From August 6 through August 15, huge crowds flooded the small town of Sturgis. There were no restrictions on capacity, no mask mandates, and the population was vaccinated at a lower rate than the U.S. overall. While only 38% of Meade County are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 compared to the 51.5% overall U.S. rate, it is still a significant portion. Health officials were concerned about the low vaccination rate and insufficient precautionary measures. Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that he was worried that Sturgis would become a superspreader event similar to last year. This is likely due to the high-contagious delta variant as well as the large number of attendees. Although 649 Covid cases were linked to the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally by the CDC, most people believe that the actual number is higher. A study that was released weeks later suggested that the rally could have resulted in 250,000 cases.

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Biggest Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Years is Wrapping UpSee Photos of the Massive Crowds at Forbes

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Starts During Delta Covid Surge (Forbes).

Coronavirus Hospitalizations have more than tripled in South Dakota after the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (Forbes).

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally - Sheriff Reports Largest Crowd in Years As Fauci Very Concerned About the Event (Forbes).

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