COVID Cases Are Up 152% in South Dakota Following the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

·2 min read
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Scott Olson/Getty Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Cases of COVID-19 have jumped up nearly sixfold in South Dakota in the two weeks following the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally.

Prior to the 10-day rally, which attracts thousands of people from across the Midwest for concerts and bar hopping in the state's Meade County, South Dakota was averaging around 50 new infections a day. In the two weeks since, cases are now up 152%, according to The New York Times, and on Aug. 24 the state reported 785 new infections.

Meade County now has the second-highest infection rate in the state, and cases there have spiked by 700%. The county's weekly test-positivity rate is now at 36.1%, with more than one in three COVID-19 tests coming back positive, according to KELO-TV. About 39% of county residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

South Dakota Department of Health spokesperson Daniel Bucheli said to NBC News that the increase in cases "are following a national trend being experienced in every state."

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Scott Olson/Getty Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

"It is important to mention that Meade County currently has a lower vaccination rate than other counties in SD," he added.

After last year's Sturgis rally, researchers estimated that more than 260,000 COVID-19 cases across multiple states could be linked back to the event, based on anonymous cellphone data.

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, has eschewed the recommended health mandates throughout the pandemic. The state has never had a mask mandate or restrictions on large gatherings, and on Monday, after the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, Noem said that she would resist any nationwide requirements set by President Joe Biden.

"If @JoeBiden illegally mandates vaccines, I will take every action available under the law to protect South Dakotans from the federal government," she tweeted.

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Currently, 49% of state residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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