South Dakota Gov. To Sue U.S. To Allow Rushmore Fireworks, Even As CDC Declares Sturgis Bike Rally A Superspreader Event
Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem really wants to attract tourists to her state and says that she’s going to sue the National Park Service to allow her to shoot fireworks over Mount Rushmore this July 4. Noem tried unsuccessfully last year to return fireworks to the national park site after a decade-long hiatus.
Her planned event in 2020 was nixed by the park service over concerns about wildfires that might be ignited by fireworks and protests from local Lakota activists that land surrounding Mount Rushmore should be returned to tribal control. Instead she was joined by her political hero, Donald Trump, who gave an incendiary presidential campaign speech with the rock formation presidents’ busts as a backdrop.
South Dakota Public Broadcasting first reported her comments to the Watertown Rotary Club on Thursday. “I’m going to file a lawsuit against the administration to get the fireworks back,” she told the Rotary Club meeting attendees.
Ironically, Noem’s insistence on creating another large South Dakota mass gathering comes on the same day that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed what many have long suspected: that the August 2020 Sturgis motorcycle rally essentially was a coronavirus super-spreader event. A study it conducted directly linked the Sturgis rally that Noem greenlighted to hundreds of COVID-19 cases across dozens of states.
More than 400,000 people from across the country attended the rally at a time when the state had implemented few COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and instituted no mask mandates. The CDC study linked the rally to 649 cases in 29 states, including one death.Fifty-six percent of these cases were reported in South Dakota and five bordering states – Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming.
“While the number of cases identified is sizable – 140 cases per 100,000 attendees – it is likely that the true national impact of the Sturgis event is underestimated,” the report said. Researchers cited several reasons for this, including the variability of health departments’ ability to identify and interview all COVID-19 cases, and reluctance among some who tested positive to report attending the Sturgis rally.