DENVER (CBS4)– The State of Colorado is reporting more than 20 cases of coronavirus linked to people who attended the week-and-a-half-long annual motorcycle event in Sturgis, South Dakota. The virus was expected to cut attendance by nearly half, but the final count put attendance for Sturgis at 462,000, down only 7.5% from the previous year.
“You know I’m not here to think about that, I’m just here to have a good time,” a man remarked at the event when asked about being with so many people.
They came by the thousands, make that the hundreds of thousands. A total of 462,000, according to South Dakota authorities. But this year there was also an unwelcome guest: COVID-19.
Many said they did their best to stay safe.
“I have a mask that I wear when I am around a lot of people and I keep my distance from all the crowds,” one woman remarked as the rally was taking place.
The State of Colorado is now asking those who attended the rally and have coronavirus symptoms to be tested immediately. Those without symptoms should be tested seven days after any suspected exposure.
Kevin Bolser co-owns Lucky Horsehoe Customs in Englewood. They weighed whether to stay at home because of the virus or go anyway and take precautions. They went and were among the 462,000 during the 10 day event at Sturgis.
“No one that we went with or knew up there has had any symptoms,” Bolser told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.
He said members of his group took special precautions to camp in a relatively remote area of a campground while there and be careful when they got home.
“What I’ve personally done is do a 10 day quarantine to stay away from shops and other public areas,” Bolser said.
At least eight other states have reported COVID-19 cases linked to Sturgis, bringing the known total to more than 100 so far.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has recently stated that she questions whether face masks prevent the spread of coronavirus, saying there is “very mixed research and the science has not proven what’s effective and what isn’t.”
She also tweeted out a welcome message to those attending the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally before it kicked off earlier this month.
#Sturgis2020 kicks off today. Welcome to South Dakota!
Our state had the Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration. We had the first national indoor sporting event with fans thanks to @PBR.
We've been "Back to Normal" for over 3 months, and South Dakota is in a good spot.
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) August 7, 2020