Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota in August linked to more than 250,000 coronavirus cases, study finds

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The 10-day Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota in August, which drew more than 400,000 people, has now been linked to more than 250,000 cases of coronavirus, according to a study by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics.
Using anonymized cell phone data from the gathering, researchers at the University of Colorado Denver, Bentley University, University of California San Diego, and San Diego State University found bikers, who have been filmed and photographed in crowded bars, restaurants and outdoor venues mostly without face masks. , allowed most of the “worst case scenarios” of “over-diffusion”.

The event “was prolonged, included very crowded individuals, involved a large out-of-town population, and had low adherence to recommended infection countermeasures such as the use of masks,” wrote the researchers.
The event will cost around $ 12.2 billion in healthcare costs, they wrote.

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Cell phone data showed that foot traffic in restaurants, bars, hotels and stores in the census blocks where the events took place increased by 90% during the event. At the same time, home behavior has declined among residents of Meade County, with a drop of up to 10.9% in median hours spent at home. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that cases spread both locally and in the counties of origin of those who show up and then make their way to their homes.
“In the counties with the greatest influx relating to the event, the rate per 1,000 cases increased 10.7 percent after 24 days after the start of the Sturgis pre-rally events,” the researchers wrote. “Multiplying the percentage increase in cases for high, moderate-high, and moderate influx counties by the respective cumulative COVID-19 cases from each county before the rally and aggregation, gives a total of 263,708 additional cases in these places due to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
“Adding the number of new cases due to the rally in South Dakota estimated by synthetic control (3.6 per 1,000 population, scaled by the South Dakota population of approximately 858,000) brings the total number of cases to 266,796, or 19% of 1.4 million new cases. of COVID-19 in the United States between August 2, 2020 and September 2, 2020, ”the report said.
The researchers obtained the cell phone data from SafeGraph Inc., a San Francisco-based data company.
Last week, the Washington Post reported the first death from COVID-19 as a result of the event, a Minnesota biker in his 60s.
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