The Full Throttle Saloon during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota on August 9.
Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
Coronavirus cases linked to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota have now been identified in eight states.
Nearly 500,000 people attended this year’s festival despite warnings about the pandemic, the state said.
Before the event kicked off, experts warned about its potential to become a superspreader event.
And in crowded bars and packed concerts during the 10-day rally, there were few masks in sight, according to photos and videos.
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Before hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts descended upon a small South Dakota town, against many residents’ wishes, for the annual Sturgis rally, public-health experts said it could be a catalyst for further spread of the coronavirus.
That’s exactly what happened.
Cases stemming from the 460,000-person event, which kicked off on August 7, have now been spotted in eight states: Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Washington. That’s in addition to the cases spotted in South Dakota, where new cases spiked to 251 on August 22 and the seven-day average of new cases continues to climb. Altogether, the cases total more than 100, according to an Associated Press analysis.
Attendees have traveled to more than half of all the counties in the US since the festival wrapped up on August 16, according to anonymous cellphone data from Camber Systems, which was tracking their departures. CNN first reported the location data.
Ahead of the rally, as city officials said there was no way to stop people from coming even if the rally had been canceled in an official capacity, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem welcomed the event with open arms. She’s also voiced doubt about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines detailing the effectiveness of masks.
Once the revelers arrived, photos showed few masks and crowded bars, despite warning signs throughout the area. On stage at a packed concert, Smash Mouth’s lead singer mocked the pandemic: “We’re being human once again. F— that COVID s—,” he says in a video.
“I sat at a bar elbow-to-elbow with guys. No one was wearing masks,” one attendee from Arizona, Stephen Sample, told The Associated Press.
The US is slowly stemming the spread of the virus, with the seven-day average of new cases falling to 42,078 from above 66,000 in July.
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