If only someone had warned them.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota kicked off in early August with mass defiance of social distancing and mask protocols and a Smash Mouth concert. Participants joked about the risks, comparing their gathering to the Black Lives Matter protests. Unlike the BLM participants who decked themselves out in PPE and other protective gear, the Sturgis attendees partied for a week as if there was no such thing as the coronavirus. “If I get it, I get it,” one biker told a local news reporter.
Odds are, he probably did.
A new study has traced over 250,000 cases of COVID19 to the rally across at least eleven states. The first death from the event occurred less than a month after the event kickoff, a harbinger of more to come.
The study, dubbed “The Contagion Externality of a Superspreading Event: The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and COVID-19,” described this year’s rally as “a mass gathering conducted during a pandemic against the guidance of CDC.” Even Fox News is reporting on the collateral damage from the event, stating that 20% of the country’s new cases can be traced back to the gathering.
It’s estimated that the costs from the Sturgis Outbreak will escalate to over $12.2 billion and draw out the lockdown orders even longer. The Trump Administration still has no cohesive national plan to fight the virus nine months into the pandemic, and South Dakota Kristi Noem, who famously invited the Trump campaign to hold an event at Mount Rushmore with no COVID protocols in place, is among many South Dakota officials downplaying the outcome of the Sturgis Rally.
The response on Twitter was appropriately angry, considering the country would like to get back to normal at some point this decade.