Health concerns for this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

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RAPID CITY, SD (KEVN) – Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally still hosted riders for its 80th anniversary, which generated a lot of buzz about whether it would be a COVID-19 “super spreader” event or not.

“We know there were less than 200 cases of South Dakota residents who attended the rally that ended with COVID,” said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health .

This year’s rally asks the same questions. Dr Shankar Kurra, vice president of medical affairs at Monument Health, said large gatherings, such as the rally and other tourist activities around the Black Hills, increase the risk of transmitting the virus.

While that was a major concern in 2020, we now know more about the virus.

“Well, what’s encouraging about this year is that we have vaccines,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

Vaccine distributions earlier this year have been shown to be effective in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases.

“Right now we are seeing around 23 cases per day on average whereas last year around this time we are seeing around 60 cases per day on average,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

However, not everyone decided to get the shot, which poses a problem for this year’s rally.

“99.75% of clinic admissions from January of this year through June of this year, all of those admitted for COVID, have not been vaccinated,” Dr Kurra said.

The Delta variant of the virus has become of increasing concern as it is 60% more transmissible than the original strain.

With the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2021 around 2 weeks away, there is still time to act. But even for the vaccinated, Malsam-Rydon says it’s still important to continue to wash your hands, stay home if you’re feeling sick, and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.

“What is tragic is that if you don’t get the vaccine it’s preventable,” Dr Kurra said.

COVID-19 tests and vaccinations remain free and accessible to everyone.

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