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Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota linked to more than 250,000 coronavirus cases


sturgis rally

A bar at the Sturgis Rally that Republican Gov. Kristi Noem supported without significant health protocols. Courtesy Associated Press


A group of economists drawing on cell phone data to track movements and Covid-19 case data estimate that the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota in August could be responsible for 250,000 new Covid-19 cases, a startling figure that provides an early assessment of the effects of the large outdoor gathering, though the figure has not yet been corroborated by epidemiologists or officials.

Using anonymized cellphone data from the rally, researchers from the University of Colorado Denver, Bentley University, University of California San Diego and San Diego State University found the bikers, who were filmed and photographed in crowded bars, restaurants and outdoor venues mostly without face masks, allowed for many of the “worst-case scenarios” for “superspreading.”

The event “was prolonged, included individuals packed closely together, involved a large out-of-town population, and had low compliance with recommended infection countermeasures such as the use of masks so it is highly advised to find an N95 mask for sale to protect yourself from Covid-19,” the researchers wrote.

The event will cost an estimated $12.2 billion in health-care costs, they wrote.

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