For those of us in public health who helped document the widespread transmission of covid-19 from last year’s Sturgis rally, we are now waiting for what will likely be next week’s outbreak reality. — Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Minnesota
For those of us in public health who helped document the widespread transmission of covid-19 from last year’s Sturgis rally, we are now waiting for what will likely be next week’s outbreak reality. — Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Minnesota
Sturgis motorcycle rally linked to more than 100 coronavirus infections amid delta variant’s spread
More than 100 coronavirus infections have been linked to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, an annual event that drew hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts to South Dakota as the virus’s ferocious delta variant spread misery nationwide.

Health officials in South Dakota, where the rally was held from Aug. 6 to Aug. 15, said contact tracing has connected 16 cases to the event. North Dakota identified 42 cases, while Wyoming confirmed 32, Wisconsin tallied 20 and Minnesota counted 13.

The 123 cases among the five states almost certainly represent an undercount because the rally concluded less than two weeks ago and contact tracing is challenging in connection with an event that lures attendees from around the country.

These cases are an echo of an outbreak from a year ago, during the pandemic’s first summer, when the rally was thought to have seeded hundreds of infections and contributed to a surge in the Upper Midwest.

This summer, several counties in the Sturgis area are already reporting increases in their case rates. Although cases were trending up earlier in August, the more recent increases have been larger and faster.

Before the rally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not classified any South Dakota county as a “hot spot.” In the weeks that followed, the agency gave that designation to Meade County, which includes Sturgis, and neighboring Pennington and Lawrence counties.

“For those of us in public health who helped document the widespread transmission of covid-19 from last year’s Sturgis rally, we are now waiting for what will likely be next week’s outbreak reality,” said Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Minnesota.


Even with widespread availability of coronavirus vaccines, some health experts and other critics had questioned holding the event this year amid the rise of the highly contagious delta variant.

But unlike in 2020, many large-scale gatherings moved forward this summer, including music festivals and sporting events packed with tens of thousands of attendees. South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R), who has stridently rejected social distancing measures aimed at limiting the virus’s spread, shrugged off concerns about the motorcycle rally.

... Nearly 526,000 vehicles passed through Sturgis during the 10 days of the rally’s 81st edition, according to a tally released by the South Dakota Department of Transportation. That was up 14 percent from 2020 and 5 percent from 2019.

A report by researchers from the CDC and the South Dakota Department of Health found that the 2020 rally resulted in widespread transmission of the coronavirus nationwide. The study confirmed one death and at least 649 cases connected to the rally, including secondary and tertiary spread.


“To limit transmission, persons attending events should be vaccinated or wear masks and practice physical distancing if unvaccinated,” the authors wrote.
Read the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/08/26/sturgis-motorcycle-rally-covid-cases/