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The Sturgis Superspreader Event

Increasing evidence points to August’s Sturgis motorcycle rally as a major contributor to the big increase in infections throughout the upper midwest.

With 400,000 folks spending days talking, drinking, eating, recreating, socializing, dancing, singing, and generally having a great time – mostly without masks, sanitizer and obviously with no social distancing, this should come as no surprise.

Sturgis’ Meade County has experienced a major jump in case infection rates, helping to steepen South Dakota’s infection curve.

Using phone tracking data, researchers found:

counties that contributed the highest inflows of rally attendees experienced a 7.0 to 12.5 percent increase in COVID-19 cases relative to counties that did not contribute inflows.

Sturgis’ location in South Dakota was problematic as the state has done little to encourage responsible behavior, choosing to allow individuals and local entities to decide on public health measures.

The study has been met with some criticism, however other reports indicate outbreaks linked to Sturgis attendees happened in Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, New Jersey, North Dakota and other states.

One can argue about the validity of this study or pick apart specific issue, but one cannot justify 400,000 maskless people mashing together in the midst of a pandemic.

None of us like to be told what to do – me included. The idea of someone telling me what to wear, where I can and cannot go, things I can and cannot do…is why I’ve worked for myself for 25 years.

With that freedom comes responsibility, and the freedom-loving folks who went to Sturgis likely robbed thousands of others of their freedom to live COVID-free.

What does this mean for you?

We are all in this together – for good or ill.

Thanks to Pete for inspiring this post.



4 thoughts on “The Sturgis Superspreader Event”

  1. Well said, Joe. One of the great things about this country is our right to pursue our lives the way we want. Always, always, always, rights come with responsibilities. There is a BIG difference the thing you have the right to do, and doing the right thing.

  2. In many places, smoking cigarettes is prohibited due to the impact on others of second hand smoke. We’ve adapted to that and now it’s no big deal. Now we’re simply asked to where a mask to protect others. Why is that such a big deal?

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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