Minnesota Coronavirus Death Is 1st Known COVID-19 Fatality Linked to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 

People walk along Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota on August 8, 2020.
People walk along Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota on Aug. 8, 2020. Getty Images

An attendee of this year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota last month has died in Minnesota after contracting coronavirus, health officials confirmed. The patient was in their 60s and had been hospitalized and placed in the intensive care unit, Minnesota Health Department spokesman Doug Schultz said. He noted the decedent also had underlying health conditions.  

The 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally ran from Aug. 7-16 and drew more than 460,000 vehicles to the town of about 7,000, according to the South Dakota Department of Transportation. It was the largest public event in the U.S. since the pandemic started in March.

Despite warnings by health officials informing attendees that the event can turn into a super spreader, thousands of bikers still rolled with it and revved up their engines and travel to the small town of Sturgis. 

Rally organizers encouraged attendees to wear face masks but it was not mandatory. Bike enthusiasts gathered at the crowded local bars and restaurants - many without any face coverings - to socialize and watch the featured concerts by Smash Mouth, Buckcherry and others.

The annual event bike event that has been a Sturgis tradition for eight decades had residents voting against it this year, amid the pandemic, but the city approved it nonetheless, CNN reported.

Before the event, city officials told CNN they offered health recommendations to vendors and businesses as they prepared for the crowds. However, none of the safety measures were legally enforceable.

The event that brought people from all over the country has spawned hundreds of new cases of people testing positive for COVID-19 over the last few weeks.

A CNN survey of state health departments revealed that at least 260 cases in 12 states have been linked to the Sturgis rally. Some of those states include Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

The event brought bikers from all over the country together. Camber Systems, a company that analyzes cell phone activity for health researchers, has the numbers to prove it. In their study reported by CNN, they cited 61% of all U.S. counties have been visited by someone who attended the Sturgis motorcycle rally.


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