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.
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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.
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