Sheriff reports largest crowd in years as Fauci ‘very concerning’ event sets new wave

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The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has drawn some of the biggest crowds in years as it kicks off in Sturgis, South Dakota this weekend, local law enforcement said on Saturday – fueling fears that the Massive rally of motorcyclists does once again become a large-scale event amid the rapidly spreading delta variant.

Highlights

In Meade County, South Dakota, Sheriff Ron Merwin said on Saturday “it’s more crowded [at the rally] that for 31 years that I do that ”, the Quick city newspaper reports, and Merwin and Sturgis Police Chief Geody VanDewater said calls for law enforcement were “significantly up” from previous years.

The Meade County Sheriff’s Office reported a 30% increase in law enforcement calls and Sturgis Police said they responded to twice as many calls for service as last year, including violations open container laws, traffic incidents and drug-related calls.

Masks are not mandatory at the rally, although local officials have said they are providing Covid-19 tests, masks and hand sanitizer and temporarily allowing alcohol consumption outside – only by using a special keepsake mug – to keep people from congregating so much inside.

The rally, which is expected to attract around 700,000 attendees, has become a source of anxiety for public health officials after last year’s event sparked a major outbreak of Covid-19, Dr Anthony Fauci said said on Sunday he was “very concerned” that the event could generate new momentum.

Chief critic

“It’s understandable that people want to do the kinds of things they want to do, they want their freedom to do it,” Fauci said on Sunday. Meet the press. “But there comes a time when you face a public health crisis that could involve you, your family and everyone, for something to replace what has to do exactly what you want to do … let’s get this pandemic under control before we do.” let’s start pretending nothing has happened.

Crucial quote

“Visitors said they came from states stranded for so long and just wanted a normal summer vacation without the worries of last year,” the city spokeswoman said. by Sturgis, Christina Steele. Washington post. “People here don’t want to talk about Covid. They want to have a good time.

Large number

$ 800 million. That’s what Sturgis generates for the local economy in terms of sales, according to data from the South Dakota Department of Tourism cited by the To post.

What to watch out for

The 10-day Sturgis event will continue until August 15. The rally includes a number of events where large crowds are expected, including a full range of concerts. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican who has supported Sturgis’ rally, which takes place amid the pandemic, will participate in a charity run at the rally on Monday.

Key context

The annual Sturgis rally was one of the most controversial mass gatherings to take place amid the Covid-19 pandemic, drawing an estimated 460,000 attendees last year even as Covid-19 increased and vaccines were not yet available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked at least 649 cases of Covid-19 to the 2020 rally and said the event resulted in “widespread transmission”, although that number may be much higher, a study suggesting that the rally could have caused as many as 250,000 cases. This year’s Sturgis rally comes as a wave of new Covid-19 infections linked to the highly transmissible delta variant has raised new concerns for large-scale events in recent days, with events like the New York Auto Show and New Orleans Jazz Fest canceled amid concerns about the variant. A recent outbreak among the crowds that gathered to celebrate the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Playoffs suggests the potential for Covid-19 outbreaks in large crowds right now, as nearly 500 cases of Covid-19 now have was reported among people who gathered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Deer District during the playoffs in July despite rallies taking place outside.

Further reading

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Kicks Off Amid Delta Covid Wave (Forbes)

Sturgis Police and Meade County Sheriff remain busy for the early days of the rally (Rapid City Journal)

PHOTOS: 81st Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Gathering Saturday Night (Rapid City Journal)

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally speeds up, drawing thousands and heightening fears of delta super-spreaders (Washington Post)

Sturgis bike rally returns bigger, despite Covid variant (Associated Press)

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