The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota potentially could be linked to 250,000 coronavirus cases, according to a new study from IZA Institute of Labor Economics. Leading into the event, there was plenty of concern voiced about the harmful impact an event of this size, which drew 400,000 people over 10 days, could have amid the pandemic.
In getting to that projected total, researches tracked cell phone data, finding out where foot traffic went between local establishments and from that, could determine an estimated number of people exposed following the event. To put it into financial terms, the group estimated if that amount of cases were to come to light, it would cost an estimated $12.2 billion as each COVID-19 case averages around $46,000. Since the event, there have been plenty of cases linked back to the event. The state itself even saw a major spike, jumping 126% over the two weeks after the bike rally. The motorcycle rally was held from Aug. 7-16. It is held annually in South Dakota and has been going on since 1938.
Gov. Kristi Noem isn’t buying the study, referring to it as “grossly misleading.” She called the report out for not reflecting any concrete data or facts, even labeling it as “fiction.” The 48-year-old governor feels this is nothing more than “an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis.” In total, South Dakota has reported more than 15,000 positive cases since the pandemic began with 173 deaths. In the past, similar studies have been conducted following Black Lives Matter rallies as well as President Donald Trump’s stop on the campaign trail in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
As the pandemic continues to rage on across the country, Americans are now wondering when a vaccine will be developed and issued. On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci didn’t seem convinced one will be ready before the November election. Appearing at a health conference, Fauci countered what Trump had suggested when he told reporters, “we could have a vaccine soon,” hinting it could come before the election that will pit him against Democratic nominee, Joe Biden. That being said, the Centers for Disease and Prevention has informed state governors to be ready to distribute a vaccine by the start of November, and there’s a chance the vaccine could bypass the federal approval process to make it available as soon as it is ready.