Roughly 250,000 visitors came to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this year (down roughly 7% from last year), despite the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
Making matters worse, reports from the iconic motorcycle rally described a crowded scene, where few attendees were adhering to social distancing rules or masking standards.
So, it was perhaps inevitable that we would be sharing today’s story with you, as the Rapid City Journal is reporting the first confirmed COVID-19 case from the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
The person in question was a bar patron at the One-Eyed Jack’s Saloon in Sturgis. He visited the bar on August 11 from 12:00 PM to 5:30 PM, which means anyone at the bar during that timeframe could potentially be infected (and presumably, any venues those people visited afterwards could also be infected, and so on).
This sets the stage for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to become what health experts call a super-spreader incident, as the high volume of people in close quarters, who were highly mobile during the rally, and hailing from different parts of the country, could easily have spread the coronavirus around the event and nation.
In all likelihood, we won’t know the full public health ramifications of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for another week or so, as the incubation time of the disease is commonly pegged at 14 days.
The South Dakota Department of Transportation officials tracked over 462,000 coming into Sturgis during the rally, which makes the event one of the largest since the global pandemic started.
While 60% of the Sturgis population voted not to hold the rally this year (which is also the 80th anniversary of the event), the decentralized nature of the rally, and the various legal implications of who own’s the rally’s name, made it nearly impossible for the city to prevent some semblance of the rally taking place.
With bikers across the country indicating that they would come to Sturgis, South Dakota regardless of the city’s decision to hold the event, the city opted to be as prepared as possible for their arrival.