More than 70 cases of COVID-19 — the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus — have been traced to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, an annual South Dakota event that went on this year despite the pandemic, CNN reported.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the rally brings hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts each year for ten days to the otherwise sleepy South Dakota town. And even though this year there is a deadly global pandemic raging, the rally was not canceled. Local and state officials made little effort to prevent the rally, limit its size, or enforce the use of masks and social distancing beyond offering non-binding health guidance.
The attitude around town toward the pandemic was allegedly one of outright hostility. As HuffPost reported, the 1990s band Smashmouth, playing to an audience of mostly-maskless revelers, shouted “F*ck that COVID sh*t!”
Photos and video later emerged from the rally — with its estimated attendance of around half a million people — showing few people wearing masks or practicing social distancing and fewer doing both. Experts feared that the rally would be a “super-spreader event,” not just locally, but across the whole country, owing to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the attendees came from out of state. In fact, 61 percent of counties in the United States have at least one resident who attended the event.
Now, nearly three weeks later, coronavirus cases that are tied to the rally are popping up.
In Minnesota, 35 infections were tied to the rally, including that of one person who required hospitalization but recovered, according to Kris Ehresmann, the Infectious Disease Division director at the Minnesota Department of Health. Seven cases in Nebraska’s panhandle region were linked to the rally, while there were 17 in North Dakota. In Wyoming, as CBS News reported, nine people who attended the event later tested positive. Wisconsin and Montana have also reported cases.
And in South Dakota, where the event was held, there were 9,371 confirmed coronavirus cases on the day the rally started. Three weeks later, that number stands at 11,505 cases, although not all of them can be tied to the Sturgis event.
One person who worked the event as a tattoo artist tested positive and could have exposed other people to the virus, health officials said. Another person, who spent hours at a bar during the event, has also tested positive.
As for the aforementioned Smashmouth concert, the band showed a picture of the “fan mail” they’d received, showing a shattered CD and a message that referred to the group as “selfish” and “mother f*ckers.” You can view this post here.