COVID-19 Cases Emerge From Big Motorbike Rally

But the real numbers may be underreported, expert says
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2020 4:30 PM CDT
COVID-19 Cases Emerge From Big Motorbike Rally
A biker poses for a photo on Main Street during the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, in Sturgis, S.D.   (Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Confirmed COVID-19 cases are slowly emerging from a massive motorbike rally in South Dakota, CNN reports. Nebraska has tied seven cases to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, while Minnesota has 15, including one hospitalization. And the Washington Post reports that South Dakota health officials—who have traced a case to a Sturgis bar—announced that an employee at the tattoo shop in the same bar has also tested positive. Yet South Dakota has linked fewer than 25 infections to the rally so far. Benjamin Aaker, head of the South Dakota State Medical Association, says little is known because most people who get infected won't be tested or properly contact-traced back to the event.

"I don't know that they'll be able to contact-trace very well," he says. "And that's one of the big problems that we will be experiencing the next 10 to 14 days." South Dakota's coronavirus dashboard shows a sharp uptick in cases in Meade County, where Sturgis resides, but daily numbers remain low. The Rapid City Journal reports that Meade saw a dozen new cases Sunday amid a 25.5% positive rate; that's double the state's "relatively high" positive rate of 12.4%, per CovidActNow. Health officials expressed alarm that the rally—where 462,000 vehicles were logged entering Sturgis from Aug. 7-16—could become a "super spreader" event, in part because many attendees ignored social distancing and didn't wear masks. (Read about a Smash Mouth concert at the rally.)

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