“This is what we face in life,” participant Bubby Fischer told local media outlet KY3, referring to the coronavirus. “If you deal with it, that’s what happens.”
Other participants also ignored the deadly contagion, responsible for nearly 200,000 American deaths Monday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“If I was scared of getting sick I would have stayed home,” one cyclist told MSNBC, declining to give his name. “But I wanted to have fun.”
Dan Ousley, a 51-year-old local and occasional Bikefest participant, told the Daily Beast he was encouraged to see the turnout.
“It’s great to see,” Ousley said. “Honestly, I think COVID-19 is a bit of a stretch, to be honest. We made national news to have big crowds, but we just want to live our life. ”
But public health experts had a very different idea.
“People are going to come together from all over the country, and it’s probably going to spur a chain of transmission that has impacts in different states,” Dr Amesh Adalja, Johns Hopkins senior infectious disease researcher, told The Daily Beast. .
“This will be a major task for public health officials as it is very difficult to track this mobile population.”
Similar problems were posed by Sturgis’ largest motorcycle rally, which was held in South Dakota for 10 days in August.
At least one participant has died from the coronavirus and researchers have called Sturgis a “mass media event”, an assessment that Governor Kristi Noem called “completely false”.
“The lessons of Sturgis are that this chain of transmission will occur in all mass gatherings and will have massive consequences,” Adalja told The Daily Beast. “At the very least, anyone who attends a mass rally should get tested within days of the event.”
The Lake of the Ozarks was previously in the spotlight during Memorial Day weekend, when massive, maskless crowds gathered for pool parties, with the pandemic still raging.
Ahead of the weekend’s biker rally, Lake Ozark Mayor Gerry Murawski admitted to the Kansas City Star that he had concerns.
“But this is our last event of the year and I keep thinking, ‘let’s get through this,’ and then we can frankly fall asleep for a few months,” Murawski told the newspaper. “And I hope next year it’s gone. Probably not, however.