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Here’s how many cases could be linked to the Sturgis rally

A new report claims the motorcycle rally in South Dakota may have led to more than 266,000 coronavirus cases.

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Bikers ride down Main Street during the 74th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, Aug. 5, 2014.

Bikers ride down Main Street during the 74th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, Aug. 5, 2014.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have led to more than 266,000 coronavirus cases, according to a new report that analyzed the impact of the rally.

What’s going on?

A new report from San Diego State University’s Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies used cellphone location data and coronavirus counts to see the impact of the Sturgis rally, which had 460,000 people in attendance.

The researchers said the consequences of the event were “substantial.”

  • 266,796 cases could be linked to the rally.
  • 19% of cases reported nationwide from Aug. 2 to Sept. 2 came from the rally.
  • $12.2 billion was the cost on public health to deal with the cases.
  • “This is enough to have paid each of the estimated 462,182 rally attendees $26,553.64 not to attend,” the researchers said.

South Dakota epidemiologist Josh Clayton and Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon told The Washington Post the research paper had not been peer-reviewed, and it didn’t account for climbing coronavirus case numbers in South Dakota.

  • Malsam-Rysdon said the study “makes assumptions around people’s cellphone use and tries to apply that to case counts.”

Before the event

Sturgis had originally been linked to 118 positive COVID-19 cases among South Dakota residents and 300 extra cases across the country, as I wrote about for Deseret.com.

Experts told USA Todaythat “COVID-19 is a particularly difficult virus to trace to its infection point. Symptoms might not show up for weeks, if at all, in an infected person. Meanwhile, that person could be spreading the virus.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has long campaigned against the “elite class of so-called experts,” who, she said, impact liberty.

  • “We are not — and will not — be the subjects of an elite class of so-called experts.”