Covid Surges Nearly 700% In South Dakota After Sturgis Motorcycle Rally—An Even Higher Rate Than Last Year

South Dakota is experiencing a jump in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations after this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally many times greater than seen at the same point after last year’s superspreader event, an analysis of state data shows.

South Dakota’s daily coronavirus cases have increased 685% from an average of 54 when the rally began on August 6 to 424 as of September 1, according to a tracker run by The New York Times. 

New infections had only jumped by about 260% by this point after last year’s rally, which yielded a fraction of the estimated 700,000-person turnout of last month’s event due to pandemic restrictions, increasing from an average of 87 new daily cases the day the rally began to 313 at the start of September.

Hospitalizations are also outpacing the increase seen after last year’s rally, topping 200 with at least 40 on ventilators as of August 31, the largest number since mid-January.

Meanwhile, some 85 coronavirus patients were hospitalized across South Dakota as of August 31, 2020, The New York Times data shows.

New daily deaths are almost the same as they were at this point last year (an average of 1.4 per day compared to 0.9 in 2020), though this metric is known to lag and can take weeks to catch up to upticks in cases and hospitalizations.

Though cases were ticking upwards before the start of the rally, it was nowhere near the rate that they have been increasing in the weeks since. Cases and hospitalizations have both jumped by more than 100% each state-wide over the past two weeks, data compiled by The New York Times shows.

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