Study: Irresponsible Sturgis rally cost public health agencies $12.2 billion, led to 250,000+ cases

I’ve never been a motorcycle guy. As a supercilious, navel-gazing, elfin twerp of a snowflake liberal (to borrow liberally from the written feedback on my Match.com profile*), I don’t like to risk my life unless it’s by climbing the deck stairs after an especially ebullient bong session. Bicycles are more my speed. And if I’m going to die it’s not going to be because I refuse to bear hug an egregiously hirsute, leather-clad man for hours on end in South Dakota. (I’m not doing it on a motorcycle, anyway.)

But if you like motorcycles, hey, that’s up to you. If you want to ride your motorcycle without a helmet — I guess that’s fine. We live in a free country, but that definitely wouldn’t be my call.

That said, there’s such a thing as public health and common courtesy. 

Going to a motorcycle rally and then fanning out across the country to spread your cooties doesn’t really fall under the “freedom” umbrella, in my opinion. And especially not if you’re draining public coffers to the tune of $12.2 billion.

The Hill:

The Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota last month was a coronavirus “superpreading event” that cost public health agencies $12.2 billion, according to a new study by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics.

The study tracked anonymized cellphone data from the rally that showed “smartphone pings from non-residents” and “foot traffic at restaurants and bars, retail establishments, entertainment venues, hotels and campgrounds each rose substantially.” Stay-at-home hours for local residents fell at the same time.

The German research group estimates that cases connected to the rally resulted in $12 billion in public health costs, not including the cost of any deaths that may have stemmed from a case there. The $12.2 billion cost is based on another estimation that $46,000 is spent per positive COVID-19 case.

Gee, who could have ever predicted that?



Oh, and then there’s the death and disease part of it.

At least one death has been linked to the rally, a male biker in his 60s with underlying conditions. At least 260 cases in 11 states have been officially connected to the rally by public health officials.

Those 260 “official” cases are almost certainly a huge undercount, however.

As Mother Jones reported regarding the same study

According to a new study, which tracked anonymized cellphone data from the rally, over 250,000 coronavirus cases have now been tied to the 10-day event, one of the largest to be held since the start of the pandemic. 

According to The Hill, the event attracted more than 365,000 vehicles, and few participants wore masks or socially distanced.

Because ‘Murica.

So here we are. Trashing our health and our economy because we’re exceptional … -ly stupid.

We need a new leader who will model mask-wearing and make decisions that respect everyone’s right to enjoy their freedoms until they die for a non-stupid reason. Make it so.

*Sorry, gals. I’m married now. 

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