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CDC Reveals Wild Spread of COVID-19 Cases From Sturgis Rally

Michael Ciaglo/Getty
Michael Ciaglo/Getty

Scientists have used genomic testing to show how COVID-19 spread from a notorious weeklong motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, over the summer to dozens of Minnesota residents who didn’t even attend.

The question of how much virus was spread by the August event has been the subject of controversy, with one group of economists using cellphone data estimating 266,000 cases could be linked to the rally and others calling that fiction.

But a new study released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employed genomic sequencing in virus samples to find similarities among patients and prove the cases were linked.

The results: It identified 51 Minnesotans who got coronavirus from attending the rally—and 35 more residents of that state who contracted it from the original group or from a secondary patient. Four were hospitalized and one died.

Fellow Governor Blasts Kristi Noem for

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Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Responsible for at Least 86 COVID Cases, 1 Death in Minnesota, CDC Says

In a weekly report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this past summer’s Sturgis motorcycle rally was responsible for at least 86 COVID-19 cases and one death in Minnesota.

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released on Friday said that after investigating all outbreaks associated with the rally among Minnesotans, the Minnesota Department of Health found 51 primary event-associated cases and identified another 35 among their close contacts, or “secondary or tertiary cases”.

Among the 86 related cases in the state, four patients were hospitalized and one died.

Over a 10-day period in August, nearly half a million people attended the motorcycle rally in South Dakota with no mask requirements or social distancing. The event was supported by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who continues to refuse to implement a statewide mask mandate as the state faces one of the nation’s deadliest outbreaks.

Although the rally did

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Tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts traveled to the Lake of the Ozarks for a bike rally weeks after a similar event in Sturgis was linked to COVID-19 cases in 8 states

Motorcyclists ride down Lazelle Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota on August 8, 2020. <p class="copyright">Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images</p>
Motorcyclists ride down Lazelle Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota on August 8, 2020.

Tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts descended upon Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks for its Bikefest this weekend, approximately three weeks after a similar rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, was linked to COVID-19 cases in at least eight states.

The five-day festival started on Wednesday, as Missouri continues to see a surge in COVID-19 cases. On Saturday, Missouri reported 1,387 new cases, and, according to the Associated Press, hospitalizations are rising.

Missouri has no statewide mask requirement, and Lake Ozark Mayor Gerry Murawski told the Kansas City Star last week that he had doubts motorcycle rally attendees would wear face coverings.

“It’s just that’s the way they are,” he told The Star.

The festival, which includes five days of motorcycle rides, concerts, and events at bars

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is using COVID-19 relief funds to pay for a $5 million tourism ad campaign, despite a surge in coronavirus cases following the Sturgis motorcycle rally

  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is going to use $5 million in coronavirus relief funds on a tourism ad campaign. 

  • South Dakota experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases following last month’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which researchers believe might be responsible for more than 19% of all new US cases.

  • The state now ranks second in the country for new cases per capita over the last two weeks, with 439 new cases per 100,000 people, but Noem is actively still encouraging people to visit. 

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Related: 25K for world-famous motorcycle rally amid pandemic

In the weeks following the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, South Dakota has emerged as a COVID-19 hotspot. 

Despite the spike in infections, the Gov. Kristi Noem decided to spend $5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds on a tourism ad campaign to actively bring outsiders to the state, according to the Associated Press. 

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