By Wade Thiel
How Bad Are the Numbers?
The scientific community warned us that large gatherings—like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally—could be super spreader events of the COVID-19 virus. According to a new study by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, more than 250,000 cases of COVID-19 can be connected to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
That not only puts thousands of people at the mercy of the virus, but it also has a dramatic impact on public health costs. “We concluded that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally generated public health costs of approximately $12.2 billion,” the report stated.
This was not the intended outcome for the rally. Event organizers knew there was a risk and did take measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including free testing areas. However, it’s clear that few people at the rally were following social distancing rules and wearing masks.
The University of Colorado Denver, Bentley University, University of California San Diego, and San Diego State University used anonymized cellphone data from the rally to track the foot traffic at restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops, according to Market Watch. This data revealed that foot traffic increased by 90 percent during the event. At the same time, stay-at-home behavior decreased by residents of the area by about 11 percent.
This should come as no surprise. Of course, foot traffic is going to go up during a big event. Also, it makes perfect sense that residents in the area would go out, many of them likely have jobs or activities connected to the rally. What’s more important is data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found attendees of the rally spread cases both locally and in their home counties.
This means that all the folks who visited the rally likely spread it while going home and once home. Again, this …read more