July 21, 2024


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COVID Cases Are Up 152% in South Dakota Following the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Scott Olson/Getty Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Cases of COVID-19 have jumped up nearly sixfold in South Dakota in the two weeks following the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally.

Prior to the 10-day rally, which attracts thousands of people from across the Midwest for concerts and bar hopping in the state’s Meade County, South Dakota was averaging around 50 new infections a day. In the two weeks since, cases are now up 152%, according to The New York Times, and on Aug. 24 the state reported 785 new infections.

Meade County now has the second-highest infection rate in the state, and cases there have spiked by 700%. The county’s weekly test-positivity rate is now at 36.1%, with more than one in three COVID-19 tests coming back positive, according to KELO-TV. About 39% of county residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

South Dakota Department of Health spokesperson Daniel Bucheli said to NBC News that the increase in cases “are following a national trend being experienced in every state.”

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Scott Olson/Getty Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

“It is important to mention that Meade County currently has a lower vaccination rate than other counties in SD,” he added.

After last year’s Sturgis rally, researchers estimated that more than 260,000 COVID-19 cases across multiple states could be linked back to the event, based on anonymous cellphone data.

RELATED VIDEO: FDA Grants Full Approval to Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, has eschewed the recommended health mandates throughout the pandemic. The state has never had a mask mandate or restrictions on large gatherings, and on Monday, after the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Noem said that she would resist any nationwide requirements set by President Joe Biden.

“If @JoeBiden illegally mandates vaccines, I will take every action available under the law to protect South Dakotans from the federal government,” she tweeted.

Currently, 49% of state residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.