The impact of last month’s 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on the spread of the COVID-19 is much more significant than first thought, with nearly 267,000 cases across the U.S. now tied to the 10-day event in South Dakota, according to the results of a new study.
Nearly 500,000 motorcyclists attended the Aug. 7 through Aug. 16 rally in the small town, many of whom patronized bars, restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels and campgrounds without face masks.
The study released today by the German-based IZA Institute of Labor Economics, which tracked cellphone data from the rally, said the rally presented many of the “worst-case scenarios” for super-spreading.
Nearly 20 Percent Of U.S. Cases Tied To Rally
COVID-19 cases traced the rally accounted for approximately 19 percent of 1.4 million cases in the country between Aug. 2 and Sept. 2, and represented a cost of more $12.2 billion.
The study said, “This is enough to have paid each of the estimated 462,182 rally attendees $26,553 not to attend.”
More than 90 percent of cell phones used at Sturgis were from outside South Dakota. A total of 18.6 percent were from bordering states and 72.1 percent from the remainder of the U.S.
Rally-goers Brought Virus Home
“We find that the Sturgis Rally caused the spread of COVID-19 cases both locally and in the home counties of those who traveled to the Sturgis rally and returned home,” the study said.
So far, only one death has been connected to the rally.
The study was done by researchers at IZA, Bentley University, San Diego State University, the University of Colorado – Denver, and the University of San Diego.
The study reported that efforts to blunt the spread of COVID-19 at Sturgis “were largely left to the ‘personal responsibility’ of attendees” and that media reports “suggest that social distancing and mask-wearing were quite rare.”
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