The recent passing of a biker from Minnesota marks the first COVID-19 death connected to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The 10-day annual event took place last month drawing more than 400,000 to South Dakota.
The infectious-disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health, Kris Ehresmann, revealed that the man was in his sixties. After returning from the rally, the man, who had other underlying conditions, was hospitalized in intensive care.
State health departments tied at least 260 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across 11 states to the rally, The Washington Post reports. However, some experts argue the number likely may not reflect the actual number of cases.
Given that many rallygoers refused to wear masks or follow health guidelines, they possibly may resist undergoing testing. Furthermore, some states limit contact tracing.
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: The Concerns Leading Up to the Annual Event
Since the start of the pandemic, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally marked the largest gathering in the US. Weeks later, multiple states report spikes in COVID-19 cases.
Leading up to the event, health experts voiced concerns that the rally may potentially cause a massive spread of the virus. Many attendees regularly crowd into bars, restaurants, tattoo shops, and other businesses at close proximity.
Another concern is that many bikers come from out of town. Upon returning home, they may have spread the virus to many other parts of the country. According to recent cell phone data collected by Camber Systems, rallygoers traveled through 61 percent of all counties in the county.
Ehresmann states that attendees returned home “perhaps to locations that weren’t seeing as much transmission to begin with.” Furthermore, Ehresmann says, “You have the potential to amplify transmission in multiple places. That’s what’s concerning from a broader public health standpoint.”
Of all the rally-related infections, the state hosting the rally, South Dakota, reported the most. Currently, South Dakota confirmed 105 COVID-19 cases.
[H/T The Washington Post]