COVID-19 death tied to Sturgis Rally reported in Minnesota

A Minnesota man who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota last month has died from COVID-19

The 10-day rally went forward despite fears it could become a super-spread event, with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem welcoming bikers and the tourist dollars they spend. Bikers crowded into bars and rock shows, mostly ignoring social distancing recommendations. Few wore masks.

She said people who attended the rally have reported moving between events, campgrounds and indoor and outdoor spaces.

“Pretty much everyone was in a crowded setting,” Ehresmann said.

The man who died in Minnesota was in his 60s, had underlying health conditions and was hospitalized before he died, according to Ehresmann.

The Washington Post first reported the death.

For 10 days in August, the rally creates a travel hub in western South Dakota comparable to a major U.S. city, according to an analysis of anonymous cellphone data from Camber Systems, a firm that aggregates cellphone activity for health researchers. The research found that 61% of all counties in the U.S. have been visited by someone who attended Sturgis this summer.

“We can’t say that Sturgis was or was not the cause of these cases,” Goodsitt said.

Tracking possible infections among riders who moved between bars, campgrounds and rock shows then scattered across the country is a nearly impossible task for health officials.

The South Dakota Department of Health has reported 105 confirmed new cases tied to the rally. The city of Sturgis made coronavirus tests available to residents and city employees after the rally in an attempt to uncover those who were infected but had no symptoms.

There's been a surge in infections in South Dakota since the rally; the state ranks third in the country for new cases per capita over the past two weeks.