'Superspreading event': Sturgis Motorcycle Rally linked to 266000 cases of COVID-19

Sturgis Bike Rally Responsible For 250,000 New Coronavirus Cases, According to New Report

Sturgis Bike Rally Responsible For 250,000 New Coronavirus Cases, According to New Report

The state used contact tracing to find out how many people got sick as a result of the rally, whereas the study researchers depended on cell phone data to track traffic coming into the state at the time of the event and the trends in COVID-19 cases following the rally. Health officials have linked some of the rise to hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists who descended on Sturgis, South Dakota, for the annual rally that ended August 16. Those included the event being prolonged over 10 days, attracting a significant out-of-town population and involving attendees clustered together, with few wearing masks.

For the Sturgis event, they identified counties which saw lots of rally-goers and tracked COVID-19 cases before and after the event in those areas using available CDC data. This resulted in over $12 billion dollars in public healthcare being spent, with the average of $46,000 being spent on each COVID-19 case.

IZA's study looked at the cost a "superspreading event" - a single gathering that results in an influx of new infections - would take on public health. Citing the staggering public health cost generated by their calculations, they claim each rally attendant could have been paid $26,553.64 not to attend in order to avoid the virus spreading.

Many also questioned why the researchers had zeroed in on the Sturgis rally while ignoring the Black Lives Matter protests and riots that have raged across the USA since the police killing of George Floyd in May, accusing them of a political hit job.

South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon also disagreed with the methodology of the study Tuesday "I would just caution you about putting too much stock into models ... that can't be verified by other factual numbers". They also questioned the use of cellphone data, with Malsam-Rysdon saying the study "makes assumptions around people's cellphone use and tries to apply that to case counts". One death has been connected to the event - a male in his 60s that also had underlying conditions.

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"This report isn't science; it's fiction", Noem said, according to The Washington Times.

The state has reported 124 cases of COVID-19 of South Dakota residents who attended the rally. The total impact, the study found, could exceed $12 billion from some 267,000 new cases caused by the rally, even if none of the cases stemming from participation prove to be fatal.

"It only takes a small number of people from places that have high infection rates to have a high likelihood that some of them are carrying the infection", he said.

The San Diego State University researchers noted that although restrictions on large-scale gatherings are "ubiquitous", there has been "little empirical evidence on the contagion dangers".

Also contributing to the spike in US cases is the re-opening of schools and colleges in many areas and the large gatherings taking place despite the warnings of health experts, ranging from protests against racial injustice to rallies in support of President Donald Trump.

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