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Sturgis Rally Now Being Called A ‘Super Spreader Event’ With More Than 250k Covid Cases Being Traced Back To The Event

We are now about 4 weeks out from Sturgis and what started as 100 cases of Covid, has now grown to 250,000 cases according to a new study.

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The event had over 450,000 attendees, and from the video footage that was shared from the various performances from bands like Drowning Pool, Saving Abel, Smash Mouth, Trapt and Quiet Riot, not many people were wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

Andrew Friedson, an Associate Professor of Economics at CU Denver posted “We estimate that over 250,000 of the reported cases between August 2 and September 2 are due to the Sturgis Rally. Roughly 19 percent of the national cases during this timeframe.”

Below is a summary at the beginning of the more in depth report, which explains how they conducted the study and came up with the numbers they did.

“Large in-person gatherings without social distancing and with individuals who have traveled outside the local area are classified as the “highest risk” for COVID-19 spread by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Between August 7 and August 16, 2020, nearly 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts converged on Sturgis, South Dakota for its annual motorcycle rally. Large crowds, coupled with minimal mask-wearing and social distancing by attendees, raised concerns that this event could serve as a COVID-19 “super-spreader.” This study is the first to explore the impact of this event on social distancing and the spread of COVID-19. 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. Descriptive evidence suggests these effects may be muted in states with stricter mitigation policies (i.e., restrictions on bar/restaurant openings, mask-wearing mandates). We conclude that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally generated public health costs of approximately $12.2 billion.”

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You can read the full 63 page report via the link below.

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