Tens of thousands gather at Sturgis motorcycle rally despite COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus

STURGIS, S.D. (NewsNation Now) — Tens of thousands of bikers are in South Dakota this weekend for the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally, despite a recent surge in COVID-19 infections and a spike in new cases tied to last year’s gathering.

The rally is in its 81st year, growing from nine participants and 200 spectators in 1938 to around 700,000 people expected to this year.

North Dakotan motorcyclist Chris Davis says its helmets are mostly on, masks almost entirely off.

“I have seen six people wearing a mask in the past two days, and I’ve probably seen 50 to 100,000 people in those two days,” Davis said.

The 10-day event kicked off Friday.

“I’ve gotten the vaccine, so I guess I’m a little less worried than most, but I can understand the trepidation for others,” David said.

Sturgis is the self-dubbed “granddaddy of ‘em all” for biking enthusiasts, but in 2020 it may have been the “granddaddy of ‘em all” for super spreader events with experts tracing at least 649 COVID-19 cases to the rally.

Yet, 2021 is still bringing bikers in from all over the country, if not the world.

“I’m not getting any younger,” said one attendee. “We ride together back home in Kentucky. We ride everywhere, so Sturgis just seemed like the thing to do.”

South Dakota has a population of just under 900,000; that number almost doubles during the rally.

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