'Blatantly faulty’: City of Sturgis responds to claims report linking 267K cases to 80th motorcycle rally

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 4:09 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - “Antithetical” and “outrageous.” That’s what the City of Sturgis calls the recent IZA Institute of Labor Economics report.

The report’s main find says 267,000 cases nationwide, or 20% of the cases in the U.S., can be linked to the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

In a press release issued by the city on Wednesday, Sturgis officials claim this is “blatantly faulty.”

“We recognize that individuals were exposed to the virus on their trip to, from or while at the Rally,” the release says. “But the data reported by health officials across the nation show that the impact from the event was a mere fraction of what was projected and anticipated by many of the experts.”

The press release points to the city’s mass testing ratio--where 26 out of 650 tested positive--as a reason for the report being incorrect.

Sturgis officials blame media outlets for being fixated on the Rally’s infection rate and pushing models that hospitals would be overwhelmed.

“Following this event are reminiscent of the models that told us that locally our hospitals would be overwhelmed, we would have a massive lack of ventilators, and 3-5% of us would not survive,” the release said. “Fortunately, as we have seen, the underlying assumptions of these models were unfounded and categorically inaccurate, just as is the conclusion of this report.”

This comment comes after state health officials and the governor have dismissed and negated the IZA report Tuesday.

The report gathered its results by using cellphone data from SafeGraph, Inc. It showed “smartphone pings from nonresidents” and “foot traffic at restaurants and bars, retail establishments and entertainment venues, hotels and campgrounds each rose substantially” through Aug. 7 through 16. It says the Rally is linked to an estimated 267,000 COVID-19 cases nationwide and claims the overall health costs from the Rally are $12.2 billion.

According to its website, “IZA is a nonprofit research institute and the leading international network in labor economics, comprising more than 1,600 scholars from around the world. Established in 1998, IZA is supported by the Deutsche Post Foundation and affiliated with the University of Bonn.”

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