A weekend for motorcycle enthusiasts may have led to a quarter of a million coronavirus cases. That’s the finding of a new study titled “The Contagion Externality of a Superspreading Event: The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and COVID-19.”
Adding the number of new cases due to the Rally in South Dakota estimated by synthetic control (3.6 per 1,000 population, scaled by the South Dakota population of approximately 858,000) brings the total number of cases to 266,796 or 19 percent of 1.4 million new cases of COVID-19 in the United States between August 2nd 2020 and September 2nd 2020.
The study, conducted by IZA — Institute of Labor Economics, in conjunction with the Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies at San Diego State University concludes “that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally generated public health costs of approximately $12.2 billion.” The authors of the study say that number is “based on the statistical cost of a COVID-19 case of $46,000 estimated by Kniesner and Sullivan (2020).”
This is enough to have paid each of the estimated 462,182 rally attendees $26,553.64 not to attend.
Health officials had expressed concerns about the rally, which, the researchers noted, “represents a situation where many of the ‘worst case scenarios’ for superspreading occurred simultaneously.” Those included the event being prolonged over 10 days, attracting a significant out-of-town population and involving attendees clustered together, with few wearing masks.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, an ardent supporter of Donald Trump is firing back at the study saying:
This report isn’t science. It’s fiction. Under the guise of academic research, it’s nothing short of an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held in South Dakota last month may have caused more than 250,000 new coronavirus cases, according to an economic study focused on the public health costs of superspreading events. pic.twitter.com/aAJUKcEIrB
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 9, 2020