FILE PHOTO: The logo of U.S. motorcycle company Harley-Davidson is seen on one of their models at a shop in Paris, France, August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo


New research from San Diego State University’s Center for Health Economics called August’s Sturgis motorcycle rally a “superspreader event,” though South Dakota health officials are disputing the findings.

The study links an estimated 260,000 coronavirus cases to the event or 19% of new coronavirus cases between Aug. 2 and Sept. 2. Additionally, the Sturgis-related surge in cases could cost an estimated $12.2 billion in public health resources. Researchers used cellphone tracking data and county data of new confirmed cases in their reporting. The report was not peer-reviewed prior to its release. Approximately 460,000 people attended the ten-day rally this year.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem dismissed the findings as “fiction” and called the paper “nothing short of an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis.” Gov. Noem says that the state has only seen 124 cases connected to the rally. A Washington Post survey identified 204 Sturgis-related cases in 20 other states. State epidemiologist Josh Clayton and Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said in a phone conference that the researcher didn’t account for increasing cases in South Dakota or that school openings could have contributed to the cases. Malsam-Rysdon and Clayton also noted that although cell phone pings increased from out-of-state residents, they wouldn’t consider cell phone traffic a “proven link to coronavirus infections or spread.”

As of August 28, more than 100 people who attended a Smash Mouth concert at the rally were diagnosed with coronavirus. At least one motorcyclist who attended Sturgis has died from COVID-19 since the rally occurred. South Dakota currently has the second-highest amount of new cases per capita in the last two weeks.


Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was ‘superspreading event’ that cost public health $12.2 billion: analysis – The Hill – 9/8/2020
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota last month was a coronavirus “superspreading event” that led to an estimated $12.2 billion in public health costs, according to a new study by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics. […] Based on the increase in case count, the researchers group, estimated that cases connected to the gathering resulted in $12 billion in public health costs, not including the costs associated with any deaths that might be tied to cases from the event. That dollar amount is based on another estimation that an average of $46,000 is spent on each patient who tests positive for COVID-19.

Did Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Cause 260,000 Coronavirus Cases? Here Are Problems With That Study – Forbes – 9/9/2020
Certainly, you’d expect a mass gathering of people from multiple states where many people weren’t wearing face masks or practicing social distancing to produce more SARS-CoV2 infections. But how accurate are these estimates from the study?[…] Analysis of this data showed that, yes indeed, lots o’ people seemed to come from different states to visit Sturgis during the motorcycle rally. At the same time, Sturgis-area residents didn’t appear to significantly change their movements, meaning that they continued to go out and potentially interact with the visitors.

South Dakota’s GOP governor dismisses the massive outbreak tied to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally as ‘back-of-the-napkin math’ – Business Insider – 9/9/2020
On the heels of a new study tying the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to more than 260,000 COVID-19 cases — amounting to 19% of total cases in the US last month — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem took to Fox News to dismiss the data. Noem, a Republican in her first term who did not mandate masks at the rally of around 360,000 bikers in her state from August 7 to 16, quipped that the research from San Diego State University’s Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies amounted to nothing more than “back-of-the-napkin math.”

Results Are In: Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Was A COVID ‘Super Spreader’ Costing Billions – Jalopnik – 9/8/2020
Anyone with a brain could tell that putting on the gigantic Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this year would be a bad idea. Now we have a scientific study to affirm this was a worst-case scenario, an event that appears to be accountable for 250,000 cases of COVID-19 at a public cost of $12 billion. Excuse me, did I say that Sturgis was a worst-case scenario? What I meant to say was that Sturgis was multiple worst case scenarios rolled into one, as noted by a new paper from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, a nonprofit supported by the Deutsche Post Foundation and affiliated with the University of Bonn.

Media Runs With Misleading Study To Smear Sturgis Bike Rally As ‘Superspreader’ Event – The Federalist – 9/9/2020
The report, conducted by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, determined that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota last month was a “super-spreader” event infecting 250,000 people and racking up $12.2 billion in public health costs, a conclusion that was uncritically published among a wide array of outlets. […] The study’s conclusions however, were built entirely upon nefarious assumptions especially prone to outside circumstances and fly in the face of the state’s own reporting.


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