New York extends travel advisory to South Dakota as massive motorcycle rally draws crowds

Midwest

Bikers ride through downtown Sturgis, S.D., on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves)

STURGIS, S.D. (News Nation) — New York is extending its travel advisory requiring a 14-day quarantine to South Dakota as many flock to the state for a massive annual motorcycle rally.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that those traveling to New York from South Dakota will be required to quarantine for two weeks due to the state’s “significant community spread” of COVID-19. Hawaii and the Virgin Islands were also added to New York’s coronavirus travel advisory list.

“New York went from one of the worst situations in the country, to an example for the rest of the nation to follow,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Our numbers continue to remain low and steady, which shows this virus will respond to an approach based on science, not politics. In order to protect this progress, we must keep up our efforts – we cannot go back to the hell we experienced a few months ago, which is why we are adding Hawaii, South Dakota and Virgin Islands to the travel advisory.”

The decision comes as the small city of Sturgis hosts its 80th motorcycle rally this week. Organizers anticipated the event would draw half the size of a normal crowd, which they say typically amounts to 500,000 people. The town’s population is around 7,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

From Friday to Sunday, roughly 160,000 motorcycles and other vehicles have rolled into the small town for this year’s motorcycle rally, News Nation affiliate KELO-TV reported.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem supported holding the rally despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The state hasn’t issued mask mandates or special limits on indoor crowds.

Sturgis officials plan to mass test residents to try to detect and halt outbreaks, but the area’s largest hospital system is already burdened with the influx of tourists and bikers who inevitably need medical care during this time.

Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island also have travel advisories for South Dakota.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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