Sturgis Motorcycle Rally kicks off amid rising COVID-19 cases

South Dakota’s annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally kicked off Friday, with at least 700,000 people expected to descend on the state during the 10-day rendezvous for bikers and motorcyclists, AP reports.

Flashback: Hundreds of rallygoers were infected last year at Sturgis, accounting for 19% of all new cases in the U.S. for a monthlong period, Axios’ Caitlin Owens reports.

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

The big picture: This year’s event comes as COVID-19 cases in South Dakota rise and vaccinations remain low — about 46% of adults who live in the county that hosts Sturgis are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Cases in South Dakota increased by 68% during the week of July 25-31 compared to the prior seven-day period, per the state’s Department of Health.

  • On Friday, crowds of mostly maskless motorcyclists packed in at bars and concerts, per AP.

  • Republican Gov. Kristi Noem threw her support behind the rally in a tweet earlier this week.

Go deeper: The coronavirus and a $12 billion motorcycle rally

More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free