Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Linked To 20% Of U.S. COVID-19 Cases In August


From August 2 to September 2, there were 1.4 million new cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States. Researchers from San Diego State University's Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies have determined that roughly 20% of those cases can be traced back to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Over 460,000 people attended the ten-day rally in South Dakota, and as they returned home, they spread the virus around the country.

Using anonymized cell phone location tracking data, the researchers found that a vast majority of the attendees were from out of state. Just 29% of attendees live in South Dakota and the bordering states. The rest of the visitors came from across the country, with many attendees traveling from Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Washington, and Wyoming.

"Taken together, the results ... provide strong evidence that the Sturgis Rally appears to have been a superspreader event for COVID-19," the researchers said. "We find significant case increases within the state of South Dakota as well as increases extending to counties from which relatively more residents attended the event."

The researchers concluded that over 250,000 cases of COVID-19 were linked to the rally and estimated that they "generated public health costs of approximately $12.2 billion."

"This is enough to have paid each of the estimated 462,182 rally attendees $26,553.64 not to attend," they added.

Officials in South Dakota have pushed back against the report, pointing out that it has not been peer-reviewed.

"At this point, the results do not align with the impacts of the rally among attendees in the state of South Dakota," epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton told KELO.

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