Sturgis Rally: superspreader

Researchers from San Diego State University’s Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies published last week a preliminary version of a research paper that estimates the COVID-19 case spread and public health costs of the Sturgis motorcycle rally in August.

South Dakota transportation officials estimated about 460,000 vehicles attended the event where many rallgoers went about unmasked and did not socially distance as they crowded together in bars, campgrounds and concert venues.

The 10-day rally ended Aug. 16 and has been associated with local and national surges in COVID-19 cases. Cellphone tracking shows about 10 percent of attendees came from within South Dakota; 19 percent from border states; and 72 percent from across the rest of the country. Heavy attendance came from Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Washington and Wyoming.

Minnesota health officials announced last week the first known COVID-19 death that could be traced to the Sturgis rally: a 60-year-old man with underlying symptoms.

Researchers said the Sturgis rally should be linked to 266,796 of the cases reported between Aug. 2 and Sept. 2. They estimate that Sturgis-linked COVID-19 cases came at a public health cost of $12.2 billion, although many who were infected absorbed treatment costs themselves.Still, the $12.2 billion estimate means it might have been worth it to pay the 462,182 rally attendees $26,553.64 each not to attend. (In-FORUM)

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