Nov 21, 2020 - Health

CDC: Sturgis motorcycle rally blamed for coronavirus spread in Minnesota

Picture of motorcyclists riding through downtown Deadwood, South Dakota
Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

A motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota attended by approximately 460,000 in August resulted in at least 86 cases of COVID-19 in neighboring Minnesota, including four hospitalizations and one death, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.

Why it matters: The CDC said its findings illustrate how large gatherings in one area can have an impact on surrounding areas, and highlight the importance of wearing face masks and social distancing.

  • The report found that of the 86 cases, 51 were in people who attended the rally and the other 35 people came in contact with event attendees.

What they're saying: "The motorcycle rally was held in a neighboring state that did not have policies regarding event size and mask use, underscoring the implications of policies within and across jurisdictions," the report said.

  • "[T]hese findings highlight the importance of reducing the number of attendees at gatherings and emphasizing mask use, physical distancing, isolation for patients with COVID-19, and quarantine for close contacts as strategies for reducing the spread of COVID-19."
  • "[T]hese findings demonstrate the rationale for consistent mitigation measures across states."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, criticized South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem for refusing to take more aggressive steps to slow the spread on the virus in the state, the Washington Post reports.

  • Walz said the Sturgis rally was "absolutely unnecessary," adding that Noem should have canceled the annual event and imposed a statewide mask mandate.
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