Could this year’s Sturgis Rally be deemed another “super spreader” event?

The Sturgis Motorcycle rally is revving up its engines but the same health concerns from last year are drifting into this year’s event.
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:20 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, the Sturgis motorcycle rally still welcomed riders for its 80th anniversary which led to a lot of buzz about whether it would be a COVID-19 “super spreader” event or not.

“We know that there were less than 200 cases of the South Dakota residents who attended the rally that ended up with COVID,” said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, South Dakota Department of Health Secretary.

This year’s rally poses the same questions. Dr. Shankar Kurra, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Monument Health, says large gatherings, such as the rally and other tourism around the Black Hills, increase the risk of virus transmission.

While that was a major concern in 2020, we now know more about the virus.

“Well, the encouraging thing about this year is that we have vaccines,” said Malsam-Rysdon.

The distributions of the vaccines earlier this year have proven effective in decreasing COVID-19 case numbers.

“Right now we are seeing about 23 cases a day on average whereas last year at this time we’re seeing about 60 cases per day on average,” said Malsam-Rysdon.

However, not everyone decided to get vaccinated, which poses a concern for this year’s rally.

“99.75% of admissions to the clinic from January of this year all the way to June of this year, all of them who were admitted for COVID, were not vaccinated,” said Dr. Kurra.

The Delta variant of the virus has become increasingly more worrisome because it is 60% more transmissible than the original strain.

With the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally about 2 weeks away, there’s still time to take action. But even for the vaccinated, Malsam-Rydon says it’s still important to continue to wash your hands, stay home if you feel sick, and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.

“What is tragic is that if you don’t get the shot, this is preventable,” said Dr. Kurra.

COVID-19 testing and vaccinations remain free and accessible for everyone.

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