The news is out: [A crowd of hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts, in which the ratio of leather jackets to masks worn was astronomical, gathered Sunday in front of the stage at the Buffalo Chip campground in Sturgis, S.D. The band Smash Mouth was scheduled to perform, a rare concert at a time when many states are discouraging gatherings of 10 or more people, let alone hundreds of thousands.
The 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, at which officials expected a crowd of some 250,000 people, was happening anyway, and Smash Mouth’s lead singer, Steve Harwell, offered his thoughts on bringing people together even as health officials urge them to stay apart.
“We’re being human once again,” he said, before making an expletive-riddled declaration. The crowd cheered.
But as the town of roughly 7,000 prepared to host one of the largest gatherings in the country since the coronavirus pandemic began, state and local health officials could not take the same approach. They could not disregard the impact such a large gathering could have on the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Before the 10-day rally, which started Friday, the South Dakota Department of Health tested all emergency medical service providers in Sturgis and nearby areas for the virus — tests state health officials say came back negative. Plans are already in place to test EMS, law enforcement and fire department personnel statewide starting two weeks after the rally ends.
“One of the things we’ve been very transparent about is any time you’re bringing people together — especially if you’re bringing individuals together from areas that might have higher risk of covid-19 in their general communities — that does pose a risk for covid-19 transmission,” state epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said in a news conference last week.]
More power to “them people” who flout science.