First COVID19 Death Linked to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Health officials in at least eleven states are trying to track outbreaks from the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which ended on August 16th. The rally is now being blamed for several coronavirus outbreaks and at least one confirmed death. The case is among at least 260 cases in 11 states tied directly to the event.

On the first day of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Meade County, South Dakota, had 87 positive coronavirus cases. As of Tuesday, the county stands at 305 cases. “My biggest fear is if the numbers keep rising then that will lead to hospitalizations,” said a local health official. “Then that will lead to morbidity and mortality and we know those are lagging indicators. They come back later, you only know the deaths after a month or so.”

It hasn’t even taken that long. A Minnesota biker who attended the event has died from the coronavirus, the first of many expected fatalities connected to the rally where most refused to wear masks or observe any social distancing protocols. The man was in his 60s, had underlying conditions, and was hospitalized in intensive care after returning from the rally, said Kris Ehresmann, infectious-disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health.

Health officials were already tracking cases connected to a concert performed at the Sturgis Rally that was headlined by the band Smash Mouth. The North Dakota Department of Health tracked 17 in-state cases related to the rally and further stated that at least 103 connected cases have also spread to Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.


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