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Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Contributed to 260,000 New Cases of Coronavirus, Study Finds

"The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally represents a situation where many of the 'worst case scenarios' for superspreading occurred simultaneously"

ON SEPTEMBER 08, 2020, 10:00AM
 
 
 
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, photo by Amy Harris
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, photo by Amy Harris
 

Last month’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally drew upwards of 450,000 attendees to the small city of Sturgis, South Dakota, marking the largest physical gathering since the pandemic began. While many feared the Sturgis would prove to be a “super spreader” event, the true magnitude of the spread is only now becoming known. And it isn’t pretty.

A new study published by health economists Dhaval Dave, Andrew Friedson, Drew McNichols, and Joe Sabia concluded that Sturgis is responsible for 260,000 new cases of COVID-19 – or, 19% of the total number of US cases during the month of August — and $12 billion in new medical care. 

“The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally represents a situation where many of the ‘worst case scenarios’ for superspreading occurred simultaneously: the event was prolonged, included individuals packed closely together, involved a large out-of-town population (a population that was orders of magnitude larger than the local population), and had low compliance with recommended infection countermeasures such as the use of masks,” they write.

The economists cite three metrics in determining the total number of cases stemming from Sturgis:

“First, using anonymized cell phone data from SafeGraph, Inc. we document that (i) smartphone pings from non-residents, and (ii) foot traffic at restaurants and bars, retail establishments, entertainment venues, hotels and campgrounds each rose substantially in the census block groups hosting Sturgis rally events. Stay-at-home behavior among local residents, as measured by median hours spent at home, fell. Second, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a synthetic control approach, we show that by September 2, a month following the onset of the Rally, COVID-19 cases increased by approximately 6 to 7 cases per 1,000 population in its home county of Meade. Finally, difference-in-differences (dose response) estimates show that following the Sturgis event, counties that contributed the highest inflows of rally attendees experienced a 7.0 to 12.5 percent increase in COVID-19 cases relative to counties that did not contribute inflows.”

In comparison, recent Black Lives Matter protests and Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally did not produce a similar surge in new coronavirus cases, the health economists found in separate studies examining each event. Attendees of BLM protests generally wore face masks and isolated following their participation in the protests. Meanwhile, Tulsa was able to offset the risk of an outbreak stemming from Trump’s rally due to “voluntary closures of restaurants and bars in downtown Tulsa, increases in stay-at-home behavior, displacement of usual activities of weekend inflows, and smaller-than-expected crowd attendance.”

In the case of Sturgis, attendees generally did not wear face masks and congregated in confined spaces (restaurants, bars, Smash Mouth concerts, etc.) over the course of 10-day event, and did not self-isolate once the event was over. As a result, an estimated 263,708 cases of COVID across the country can now be attributed to the rally. Already, one person who attended the rally has died from the virus, but unfortunately that number is also expected to grow.

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Anyway, these numbers seem highly suspect to me.  I would like to see data and how they got it, put it together, and interpreted it.  I imagine that cases resulting from cases resulting from cases wouldn't cause those numbers to roll in so fast, so I am suspicious of this.

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Could easily be true.

Day 1, Viral Vinnie goes into a packed bar.  Only 10 of the 100 people in there get infected.  Those 10 go to 10 bars, infect only 10 patrons.  10 days of this.  263,708 is pretty low.

Not to go on stereotyping, but there's a pretty good chance Vinneie wasn't the only one who showed up infected.

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1 minute ago, Old No. 7 said:

WHAT?

Lean in and let me take off my mask and yell it at you over the sound of the straight pipes on my hog.

 

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36 minutes ago, 12string said:

Could easily be true.

Day 1, Viral Vinnie goes into a packed bar.  Only 10 of the 100 people in there get infected.  Those 10 go to 10 bars, infect only 10 patrons.  10 days of this.  263,708 is pretty low.

Not to go on stereotyping, but there's a pretty good chance Vinneie wasn't the only one who showed up infected.

Ok, yeah, but...

If you come in contact with a smelly, bearded, plague-infested, badly tattoo'ed non-bather (ultra-redundant, I know), breathe in the drug and alcohol-induced shouted exhalations over and over, don't you still have a day or two until you can infect others?  It still seems high, and I haven't seen this reported in larger outlets, yet.

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4 minutes ago, Randomguy said:

Ok, yeah, but...

If you come in contact with a smelly, bearded, plague-infested, badly tattoo'ed non-bather (ultra-redundant, I know), breathe in the drug and alcohol-induced shouted exhalations over and over, don't you still have a day or two until you can infect others?  It still seems high, and I haven't seen this reported in larger outlets, yet.

Meh - the folks who believe the study will believe the study. Those who don't believe it won't believe it.

We're in a bad space where minds are closed and studies like the OP are fairly irrelevant.  Hopefully policy makers and epidemiologists are on their game and working on the issues without regard to public opinion.

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25 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

Meh - the folks who believe the study will believe the study. Those who don't believe it won't believe it.

I want my mind stuffed with actual fact, though, not made up WAGs.  I positively know in my mind that the motorcycle thing was a dumber than shit event to have go on regardless because of the whole pandemic, and those people are simply not wired to give a shit about anybody else (generally speaking).   For dog's sake, half of those people would try to eat the soap DH makes, and they haven't been in contact with running water in years, so you knew there was going to be SOME spread from it.

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Just now, Randomguy said:

I want my mind stuffed with actual fact, though, not made up WAGs.  I positively know in my mind that the motorcycle thing was a dumber than shit event to have go on regardless because of the whole pandemic, and those people are simply not wired to give a shit about anybody else (generally speaking).   For dog's sake, half of those people would try to eat the soap DH makes, and they haven't been in contact with running water in years, so you knew there was going to be SOME spread from it.

All I know of Sturgis is what I gleaned from a trailer of the John Travolta opus Wild Hogs.  Middle aged guys playing Hells Angels for a weekend seems as likely to me as unwashed danger to society.

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47 minutes ago, Randomguy said:

Ok, yeah, but...

If you come in contact with a smelly, bearded, plague-infested, badly tattoo'ed non-bather (ultra-redundant, I know), breathe in the drug and alcohol-induced shouted exhalations over and over, don't you still have a day or two until you can infect others?  It still seems high, and I haven't seen this reported in larger outlets, yet.

OK, 2 days.  But you gotta give me more than one out of 450,000 ws infected.

I'm not trying to refute or deny the study, just pointing out the plausibility of their conclusion.

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8 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

All I know of Sturgis is what I gleaned from a trailer of the John Travolta opus Wild Hogs.  Middle aged guys playing Hells Angels for a weekend seems as likely to me as unwashed danger to society.

The problem is that it is not that, it is generally a meetup of past and future felons with poor hygiene and a persistent disregard for society.  You might have some of the people you described attend, but do you think most middle aged optometrists, accountants, and engineers really want to hang out with the unwashed masses?  I don't think so, the smart ones wouldn't attend BECAUSE of the virus, whereas the attendees this year, not so much.

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2 minutes ago, 12string said:

OK, 2 days.  But you gotta give me more than one out of 450,000 ws infected.

I'm not trying to refute or deny the study, just pointing out the plausibility of their conclusion.

Ok, more than one for sure. 

Wow, even Fox news is reporting it now, so the real number may actually be higher than in the article!

https://www.foxnews.com/health/sturgis-motorcycle-rally-coronavirus-cases-south-dakota

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32 minutes ago, Randomguy said:

Wow, even Fox news is reporting it now, so the real number may actually be higher than in the article!

That Fox is turning away from it’s anti-mask position of this spring is commendable, although too little, too late. But I don’t think their reporting on this story is independent evidence in the soundness of the data. That’s in the details, and I haven’t done more than skim the article, I don’t know if the answers you want are there or not.

What I find incredible is that there were 1.25 million new cases last month. 

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It was South Dakota that was the only State that would not refund our money when we had to cancel our reservations this spring because of Covid and the border being closed.  Everyone else was more than understanding and helpful, so fuck them.  I hope they all get sick.

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2 hours ago, Razors Edge said:

We're in a bad space where minds are closed and studies like the OP are fairly irrelevant. 

Yup... We're at a spot where we can trust scientific contact tracing or one's feelings.  Too many people are going with their feelings while ignoring science.  

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3 minutes ago, Zephyr said:

It was South Dakota that was the only State that would not refund our money when we had to cancel our reservations this spring because of Covid and the border being closed.  Everyone else was more than understanding and helpful, so fuck them.  I hope they all get sick.

Was the non-refund excuse given that there was no reason you couldn't visit, so too bad?

We had a pretty big trip planned for April to Spain.  At the beginning, refunds were not readily on offer.  As the Spanish government began to impose closures, and then the US airlines began to shut down, we were able to get almost everything fully refunded except the one hotel that was going with a one year window to rebook instead of an automatic refund. I was fine with that as maybe our payment - even if never redeemed in the one year window - might help the hotel to weather a crisis.  We even made a small profit on one refund as the exchange rate changed.

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We can question the number but we do know this. The rally didn’t need to happen and now thousands of people are sick and many will die because of it.  

I wish people would quit being stupid...

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8 minutes ago, ChrisL said:

I wish people would quit being stupid...

Yup. A motorcycle, like a bike, is a great way to get oot while socially distancing if done right.  They did the opposite. 

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I know a lot people in the pro Sturgis camp. They are mostly blue collar hard working Trump supporters. Their hygiene is at least average, and they are not all criminals. Hoopleheads.... 

What is surprising, or maybe not, is how many of them believe in God but not covid.

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23 minutes ago, ChrisL said:

We can question the number but we do know this. The rally didn’t need to happen and now thousands of people are sick and many will die because of it.  

I wish people would quit being stupid...

That's like wishing that people were born with 3 eyes.  Not going to happen.

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43 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

Was the non-refund excuse given that there was no reason you couldn't visit, so too bad?

"Oh.., our State is staying open so you are more then welcone to come.  Everything will be fine..."  (insert eyeroll here)

They could not wrap their head around our border being closed.

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Just now, maddmaxx said:

That's like wishing that people were born with 3 eyes.  Not going to happen.

Yeah I know... Sturgis just flew in the face of everything we shouldn’t be doing.  Now look what those stupid fuckers did...  Not only will they kill themselves, they’ll kill their parents, in laws, the old lady who poured their coffee...

Gotta learn the hard way.

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It is going to hit hard around here. People just don't believe it is a real thing, and they are gathering more and more. Out of the way bars & restaurants are doing business as normal. 

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1 hour ago, Zephyr said:

"Oh.., our State is staying open so you are more then welcone to come.  Everything will be fine..."  (insert eyeroll here)

They could not wrap their head around our border being closed.

Yep, just parroting their governor.

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3 hours ago, Zephyr said:

It was South Dakota that was the only State that would not refund our money when we had to cancel our reservations this spring because of Covid and the border being closed.  Everyone else was more than understanding and helpful, so fuck them.  I hope they all get sick.

If they kept it in SD, I'd be okay with it. JH was crawling with Sturgis attendees. I woke up one morning to a group working on their bikes below my balcony. 

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6 hours ago, dennis said:

If they kept it in SD, I'd be okay with it. JH was crawling with Sturgis attendees. I woke up one morning to a group working on their bikes below my balcony. 

We always get a few passing through during that time of the year.

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10 hours ago, sheep_herder said:

Yep, just parroting their governor.

I don’t know what she actually said during her RNC speech, but what she said the following day on NPR was that the Liberty and Freedom to not wear a mask at Sturgis was more important than any infections that may have come out of the rally. 

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12 hours ago, ChrisL said:

Yeah I know... Sturgis just flew in the face of everything we shouldn’t be doing.  Now look what those stupid fuckers did...  Not only will they kill themselves, they’ll kill their parents, in laws, the old lady who poured their coffee...

Gotta learn the hard way.

Worse still is the movement that says 18 to 24 year old college kids shouldn't be held responsible for partying on campus because that age group is not responsible yet.

Time to grow up boys and girls.  

Durham NH.  100 people attend frat party.  11 have covid.  Frat disbanded by school.  Just todays example of stupid.  There are far too many to list all.

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21 hours ago, jsharr said:

Can they do the same study but for STD's from hookers and Hep from bad tatttoos?

It's never the good stuff.

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I need to take the VW to Rapid City, and I am a bit reluctant to take the trip.

The ram sale is coming up here in Miles City. Think I'll skip this year, that way avoiding crowds and political talk. Attended two fairs, but I had commitments at both.

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1 minute ago, sheep_herder said:

The ram sale is coming up here in Miles City.

It's Truck Month and I am seeing 0% financing for 72 months on a select line or Ram trucks!

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2 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

It's Truck Month and I am seeing 0% financing for 72 months on a select line or Ram trucks!

I have several rams 'Thank You' 1 truck and several live ones. Currently buying two from a fellow in Meridan, Idaho.

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5 hours ago, maddmaxx said:

Worse still is the movement that says 18 to 24 year old college kids shouldn't be held responsible for partying on campus because that age group is not responsible yet.

Time to grow up boys and girls.  

Durham NH.  100 people attend frat party.  11 have covid.  Frat disbanded by school.  Just todays example of stupid.  There are far too many to list all.

They're grown up enough to go to war, they ought to be grown up enough to deal with a disease that's killed more than most of our wars.

But it's on the colleges, too.  They should know there's no way to make this work, especially the city colleges where there's no confined campus.  Let's bring in kids and their families from all over the country to move in.  Give 'em a couple weeks to spread around what they brought with 'em, then call in the families to come bring the kids back to spread it back home.  Just dumb.

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