WaPo: Minnesota Biker Who Attended Sturgis Bike Rally Has Died Of COVID-19

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More than 400,000 people flocked to one small town in South Dakota for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August.

According to The Washington Post, the first coronavirus fatality traced to the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which brought more than 400,000 people to South Dakota, was a Minnesota biker in his 60s who had underlying conditions.

  • Kris Ehresmann, infectious-disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health, said the man was hospitalized after returning home from the rally.
  • A Washington Post survey of health departments determined that the man’s case “is among at least 260 cases in 11 states tied directly to the event.”
  • However, The Post also reported that “Epidemiologists believe that figure is a significant undercount, due to the resistance of some rallygoers to testing and the limited contact tracing in some states,” adding that “the true scope of infections stemming from the event that ran from Aug. 7 to Aug. 16 is unlikely to ever be known.”

Public health officials had long expressed concern over the decision to move forward with the annual event, believed to be the largest held anywhere in the U.S. since the pandemic shelved most large-scale gatherings.

Now, just over two weeks after the conclusion of the rally, the Midwest and the Dakotas in particular are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases even as infections decline or plateau in the rest of the country. Besides the fallout from Sturgis, Ehresmann and other health officials attribute much of the increase in the Midwest to people not following public health guidelines, not wearing masks and attending social gatherings such as weddings and funerals.

  • Still, The Post noted that the Sturgis event was unique, in that it drew “people from across the nation to one small town, where they crowded into bars, restaurants, tattoo shops and other businesses, many without masks.”

Of states that have reported rally-related infections, South Dakota has seen the most, at 105. State health officials there put out alerts about three potential covid-19 exposures that occurred while the event was underway, after learning that individuals who had tested positive for the virus had visited Sturgis businesses while infectious.

Read the full report.


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