Aftermath of the Sturgis SD Motorcycle Rally

This might not be Mundane or Pointless, but I’m note sure where else to put it.

In the wake of the Sturgis Motocycle Rally held on August 7-16 2020, I notice that South Dakota has, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus site, experienced its highest reported new caseload – 457 on August 28, 2020, more than twice the previous daily high. Thecaseload rise begins after the start of the rally, as you can see here:

I haven’t seen anything in the news about this, but it seems a particularly important point, especially since lots of people were saying before the rally that it would probably lead to this.

By the way, New Hampshire last week had its delayed Laconia Bike Week, normally held in June . New Hampshire has had a good record of suppressing COVID, like the rest of New England, and I don’t see any jumps there yet. But we’ll see what the next couple of weeks hold

Attendance at Laconia is typically under 200,000. Sturgis generally has about 500,000. That can affect things, too.

I am a little skeptical that those SD numbers are from participants in the Sturgis bike rally. Most of those bike riders are from out of state and would only be staying is Sturgis for a few days. They are unlikely to have been tested while they were there in SD, maybe some would be tested when they got home but those numbers would have shown up in their home state statistics.

Of course the riders may have brought Covid with them and the rise in numbers is from the locals who got tested afterward, just in case. But I have heard nothing about a rise in actual illnesses from Covid in SD.

And this is the problem that I, personally, have with the numbers reporting. 243 new cases were reported yesterday. Well, how many of those people were in the hospital? Well, none, they are all staying in self quarantine at home. How many people are really sick? That is the number I would like to see reported. That isn’t reported because that number would be much smaller and not newsworthy. Fear sells, so the larger number is what is reported.

This probably should be moved to The Quarantine Zone.

You should totally move to Colorado our total number of positive test, the number of people hospitalized, the number of COVID deaths, and the positivity rate for the total number of tests are reported on the evening news each night. Keeps down on the fear mongering.

The number of people currently hospitalized in SD with COVID is listed on the SD Department of Health page:

One of the problems with reporting this number is that it’s even more of a lagging indicator than number of tests. What we really want to know is how many people are infectious right now, because that’s a useful number for making decisions about behavior/policy. But all we have are measurements of that number in the past. Positive tests are one such lagging indicator because there’s time between getting infected, feeling sick, getting a test result. Hospitalizations and deaths lag even further behind since it takes more time to get sick enough to be hospitalized or die.

I assume you’re talking about news reports and not state health department data, but AFAIK most or all states have a dashboard with the figures you’re asking for. I check the Ohio one every few days. Here’s the one for South Dakota.

I didn’t say the cases were from Bike Rally participants – I point out that the numbers went up in the state after the rally. That could result from people outside the state bringing it in – which is really what people are concerned about.

Moved to QZ from MPSIMS.

QZ Moderator

If 243 new cases were reported yesterday, would that not be how many people are ‘really’ sick. Maybe a few less due to a delay in test results or reporting, but it should be close.
IMO, to go looking for a smaller number for the report, like how many are in the hospital or how many are ‘really sick’ (what does that mean?), ignores the fact that those 243 people are or were contagious. Remember, you don’t have to be in the hospital or showing symptoms to pass it to someone else. And the person you pass it to could end up really sick.

Go look at the Johns Hopkins site (which is the one that the news media rely on).

I’ve been following it daily, and was feeling pretty good that the “hot spots” in Florida, Texas, and Arizona appeared to have peaked, and were on their way down.

But South dakota showed that anomalous, relatively sudden spike in cases, rising much faster than it had risen originally, and going to more than twice the height of the original “hump”. That sort of thing demands some explanation. That the Sturgis rally had finished up a couple of weeks previously presents itself as the obvious cause.

And now the media has taken notice. I heard a lengthy report on it last night on NPR. Huffington Post has this:

By the way, there are similar abrupt peaks in neighboring states, Iowa and North Dakota

You cant just point your finger at Sturgis and read a chart from a website to totally understand what is going on in South Dakota.

I have alot of connections in South Dakota and its complicated. For a long time many counties, up until July even, had pretty low numbers but over time, eventually, the disease came in. Sources include out of town visitors in general not just for Sturgis (South Dakota is big on summer tourism), residents travelling, residents getting tired of restrictions, etc… When I went up there over the 4th they only had restrictions tight around the nursing homes. Many businesses didnt even require masks. The disease mostly connected to a meat packing plant in Sioux Falls.

So basically you can NOT just point to the Sturgis Rally and go “SEE, SEE, look how that event caused all more cases in the state”. The two do NOT go together. The state was due for an increase and they got it.

Sidenote: the reservations who have a large population of vulnerable people, are doing a pretty good job controlling it with some even using roadblocks.

The spike in cases in South Dakota may not be solely due to the Sturgis rally (and I’m not sure that anyone is actually claming that the spike is entirely due to the rally), but the fact that the spike occurred when it did (i.e., several weeks after Sturgis) is strong circumstantial evidence that Sturgis played a substantial role in the outbreak.

Well my point is the cases would have risen even if Sturgis had not occurred. Ok, maybe just 150 vs 250 cases (I’m making up numbers here) but it would have still happened.

For example Perkins county in northern SD up until last month had zero cases and is far away from Sturgis and sees little traffic, now has had a few cases.

That seems to be a distinction without meaningful difference.

Sturgis was held in the first place because South Dakota has not been taking COVID as seriously as it could. So, ok, not all the increase can be attributed to it.

But so what? That’s refuting a claim that wasn’t made in the first place. What people did claim was that Sturgis would be associated with a spike in cases, and this seems confirmed, not that it would be the sole factor in new cases, which is a bizarre claim to make in any event.

And it has also led to additional spread of the disease across the country.

I’m not sure you’re helping your case. There were zero reports in Perkins county from 7/28 through 8/21. Then, starting on 8/22, two weeks after the start of Sturgis, they had 13 cases in 12 days.

But where did they get it? Was it from Sturgis?

I dont know how many people in Perkins county went to Sturgis or if alot of people heading to Sturgis visited Perkins County (they do have some tourism).

Now that would be interesting to check. If people DID go to Sturgis, did they get it? Did people get it who were around visitors?

BTW, a coworker of mine also went to Sturgis and so far as I know he didnt get it.

Well, since you told us that Perkins county gets little traffic and since there were no reported cases for an entire 24 days (well past the typical symptomatic window) prior to the rise, and since they suddenly had a large influx of cases in a very short window, I’m pretty sure the answer isn’t “from each other”.

I’m going with Sturgis.

Smithfield in Sioux Falls has 3700 people. The Sturgis rally had 500,000 people.

No matter how you work or manipulate the numbers, having 500,000 people descend on a town for 10 days isn’t a good idea right now. Whether you feel they’re ‘due’ for an outbreak or not.
In Milwaukee, we canceled Summerfest (as well as all the festivals that take place on those grounds). Summerfest brings in close to a million people, plus employees (few hundred?) and all the music acts and their crews.
It sucked for the city, it sucked for the local economy, it sucked for morale, but there’s no reason to have all those people in such a crowded area.

Total WAG, but with hundreds of thousands of people coming in, it’s possible, if not likely, that some local people went down to Sturgis for the near certainty of spectacle and employment that comes when a lot of new people suddenly need food, housing, booze, and entertainment.

Not sure why the assumption is that people from Sturgis had to go to Perkins County. The fine citizens of Perkins County should be quite capable of leaving the county of their own accord and returning in the same manner.

I predict a soft used market for Harleys next year.