COVID-19 death tied to Sturgis Rally reported in Minnesota

Cover Image
Photo credit FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2020 file photo, people congregate at One-Eyed Jack's Saloon during the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D.. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota from Aug. 7 to 16. Minnesota health officials reported Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, that a man in his 60s who attended the rally died from COVID-19. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves File)
By The Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A Minnesota man who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota last month has died from COVID-19, Minnesota health officials reported on Wednesday.

The death is the first reported from the biker rally that drew hundreds of thousands of people. Infections linked to the event have been reported among people in states spanning coast to coast. The 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.

Rallygoers crowded into bars and rock shows, mostly ignoring social distancing recommendations. Few wore masks.

The man who died in Minnesota was in his 60s, had underlying health conditions and was in an intensive care unit at a hospital before he died, said Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Washington Post first reported the death.

For 10 days in August, the rally created 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 researches found that 61% of all the counties in the U.S. have been visited by someone who attended Sturgis.

South Dakota has seen the bulk of cases tied to the rally, with the Department of Health reporting 105 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 people who had infections but no symptoms.

Cases among people who attended the rally have been reported in 11 other states, from Washington state to New Jersey.