Last month’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that packed nearly 500,000 people into a small town in South Dakota for over a week now shows grim results.
A new study that tracked anonymized cellphone data from the event tied more than 250,000 coronavirus cases to the 10-day rally, one of the largest to be held since the beginning of the pandemic.
It drew motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country, with many of whom were spotted without face coverings inside crowded restaurants and bars.
A study from a Germany-based IZA Institute of Labor Economics revealed that the country can expect to reach over $12 billion in public health costs due to the explosion in cases.
“The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally represents a situation where many of the ‘worst-case scenarios’ for super-spreading occurred simultaneously,” the researchers said.
“The event was prolonged, included individuals packed closely together, involved a large out-of-town population, and had low compliance with recommended infection countermeasures such as the use of masks,” they added.
Although the results were staggering, it’s unlikely to surprise public health officials who warned that proceeding with the rally could be catastrophic given the residents and officials from Sturgis’s relaxed approach towards the social distancing guidelines and some of the attendees’ mockery of the pandemic.
One participant even wore a T-shirt saying, “Screw COVID. I went to Sturgis.”
This development comes at the heels of the first confirmed death from the event, a Minnesota man in his 60’s who attended the rally and died a few weeks after.
Because of the rally, South Dakota now has one of the country’s highest coronavirus cases.