Study: Motorcycle rally sparked COVID-19 cases in next state - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Study: Motorcycle rally sparked COVID-19 cases in next state

People gather on Main Street during the 2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. (Shutterstock)

Nov 20, 2020

By MIKE STOBBE AP Medical Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — When nearly a half-million motorcycle enthusiasts gathered in South Dakota this summer, health experts worried the gathering would ignite new outbreaks of coronavirus cases. 

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It did, according to a report Friday that looked at cases in neighboring Minnesota.

About one-third of counties ended up having at least one coronavirus case that was tied to August’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, investigators reported in a study mainly conducted by Minnesota health officials and published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Minnesota officials counted 86 cases that they said were related to the rally — 51 people who went to Sturgis and 35 who came into contact with those people later. Most did not suffer serious illnesses, but four were hospitalized and one died.

“These findings highlight the far-reaching effects that gatherings in one area might have on another area,” the study authors wrote. “The motorcycle rally was held in a neighboring state that did not have policies regarding event size and mask use, underscoring the implications of policies within and across jurisdictions.”

CDC officials did not immediately answer a question about any other research assessing the Sturgis rally’s impact on other states.

The rally has been a source of contention between the governors of Minnesota and South Dakota. Earlier this month, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz criticized South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem for not taking more aggressive steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Walz, a Democrat, said the Sturgis rally was “absolutely unnecessary.” Singling out Noem, who is a Republican, he said he wished the state had canceled the rally and imposed a statewide mask mandate, as Minnesota has.

In September, The Associated Press found that at least 290 people in 12 states tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the rally.


The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:


What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: covid@cnchd.org


  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.

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