A motorcycle rally held earlier this month in South Dakota has been linked to at least 122 coronavirus cases across eight states, health officials said, marking an increase in infections associated with the rally from just last week.
The massive annual rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, was held from Aug. 7-16, and state officials tracked 460,000 vehicles going into the 10-day event.
Photos show little mask usage or social distancing at the rally, while South Dakota health officials warned last week that attendees could have been exposed at four local businesses, including a tattoo parlor where an employee tested positive and three bars that were visited by at least one infected individual.
By Tuesday, cases connected to the rally have been found in eight states: Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, Montana and Wyoming, according to the Associated Press.
The majority of the cases are in South Dakota and Minnesota, which have 37 and 35 cases among residents respectively as of Tuesday, while Nebraska reported 18 cases, up from seven last week, the state’s department of health told Forbes in an email.
Tracking the outbreak may prove to be a challenge in some states: Wisconsin reported two attendees who tested positive, but Elizabeth Goodsitt, a communications specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, told Forbes in an email that those individuals also reported other possible exposures, so it’s impossible to determine if Sturgis was the cause.
Kris Ehresmann, the director of infectious diseases at the Minnesota Department of Health, said he expects more cases from the rally to be detected later this week.
The Sturgis city council approved the event in June despite a survey finding that 60% of residents were against it, CNN reported. City officials went ahead with the event anyway because they felt they couldn’t stop crowds from coming into the city, and instead wanted to prepare for the event as best they could, according to CNN.
Video shows rock band Smash Mouth performing for a packed audience at the rally, while lead singer Steve Harwell tells the crowd, “F*ck that COVID sh*t.”
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