In South Dakota’s Meade County, site of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, only 37% of residents are fully vaccinated against COVID ahead of the annual event which is expected to attract more than 700,000 people, the Associated Press reported.
Health experts called the Sturgis rally a “super-spreader” after it was held last year, resulting in 463 COVID-19 infections among attendees.
This year’s rally, which attracts many travelers, is scheduled for August 6-15.
Although South Dakota experienced lower summer COVID-19 case rates than last year, Dr Doug Lehmann, head of a Rapid City health clinic, said the event is “a kind of perfect storm for the spread of a pandemic”, to the AP.
Retired South Dakota physician Dr Jim Buchanan said “there are a lot of forces coming together to make the situation potentially worse (than last year).”
For more Associated Press reporting, see below.
With the increase in coronavirus cases in Iowa and across the country, health experts are increasingly concerned about next month’s Iowa State Fair, which will bring more one million people in Des Moines statewide, including many counties with low vaccination rates and increasing disease prevalence.
Iowa’s biggest annual event comes at a time when giant summer events will draw crowds across the country, including states that are experiencing more viral infections due to low vaccination rates and the growth of the Delta variant. They range from the Sturgis rally to the Minnesota State Fair, which typically draws over 2 million people.
In Iowa, authorities have encouraged people to get vaccinated, but the state’s legislature and the Republican-majority governor have prevented local governments from imposing vaccination or mask requirements it won’t. There will therefore be no limit to who can attend the fair when the event begins its 11-day run on August 12th.
âSadly, our current leaders have turned their backs on science and what was at our disposal to fight this pandemic and let the people of Iowa fight what could be avoided,â said Dr. Megan Srinivas, a nationally recognized Iowa-based infectious disease physician. for his research, which includes COVID-19.
She said people mistakenly think being outdoors provides security, when the virus can actually spread in large, dense crowds such as state fairs and large concert halls.
âAnytime we see a large congregation of people, especially with mixed vaccination status, we’re going to see a high risk of transmission and an increase in transmission,â she said.
Additionally, the Delta variant is two to three times more transmissible than previous viral strains, creating additional risk for fair visitors when they line up for food, share condiment dispensers, and jump on carnival rides. , Srinivas said.
The Iowa State Fair will be held in Polk County, where Department of Health spokesperson Nola Aigner Davis has expressed concern over the state’s viral trends and reluctance to stand up. get vaccinated or wear masks.
“We know what the numbers are saying. We know our cases are increasing. We know the trends are on the rise. What’s the safe thing to do when people cannot get the vaccine? They have to wear a mask,” Davis said.
When asked on Wednesday if she was concerned about infections at the Iowa State Fair, Gov. Kim Reynolds did not respond directly but advised potential visitors to get vaccinated and noted that most people hospitalized with COVID-19 had not been vaccinated.
“So it’s a decision they made,” she said. “They did the math on whether to do it or not and so I don’t think we should punish everyone because some made the decision not to do it.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday that 49% of Iowa residents were fully immunized, ranking the state 21st in the country. In at least 18 of Iowa’s 99 counties, less than 40% of the population is vaccinated, and CDC data shows 35 counties with a high rate of spread and 12 counties with substantial spread of the virus.
Iowa also has the sixth-lowest testing rate in the country among states reporting the data, which could make it difficult to identify an outbreak if it occurs.
Srinivas said she was also concerned about RAGBRAI, an annual week-long bike ride through Iowa that continues through Saturday, drawing about 15,000 cyclists from across the country to small county towns with some of the lowest vaccination rates in the state.
She called it “the perfect environment for epidemics to happen.”
In Chicago, the city’s top public health officials said on Tuesday she was still comfortable with the four-day Lollapalooza music festival scheduled to begin on Thursday. Organizers are requiring participants to show full proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result, Dr Allison Arwady said on Tuesday. People participating in the four days will need to be tested at least twice.
The festival, the city’s largest music event, is expected to draw 100,000 people every day to Chicago’s Grant Park. Those who are not fully vaccinated should wear face masks when attending the festival.
The Minnesota State Fair will return from August 26 after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic. It typically attracts over 2 million visitors during its 12-day run, which ends on Labor Day.
Almost all of Minnesota’s pandemic restrictions have been lifted, so fair-minded officials aren’t anticipating daily attendance limits. As it stands, masks will not be mandatory for guests but are “strongly encouraged” for anyone not fully vaccinated. No proof of vaccination will be required. Hand sanitizer will be provided at various locations throughout the 322-acre fairground in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights.
Garth Brooks fans will have a chance to get their COVID-19 vaccine when the country music star performs at Arrowhead Stadium on August 7. Kansas City Star reported.