What possibly could go wrong?
Thousands of bikers gathered in the small town of Sturgis, South Dakota today, for the opening day of what is expected to be one of the largest events since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Each year, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally draws hundreds of thousands of bikers from all over the country for “10 days and nights of riding, food, and music,” according to the event’s website. This year, the organizers are expecting 250,000 attendees from around the country despite fears that the large-scale gathering could lead to an equally large outbreak of coronavirus.
But while a majority of local residents are worried that the crowds could create a “super-spreader” event, others remain unfazed. When asked about the potential dangers of the Rally, Bob Davis, a lifelong Sturgis resident, replied, “Freedom, God, and Donald Trump.”
Unfortunately, many Rally attendees share Davis’s sentiment. On Friday, street vendors hawked “Screw COVID I came to Sturgis” T-shirts, and, according to an Associated Press reporter, motorcycles were everywhere, but masks were almost nowhere to be seen; the reporter counted fewer than 10 masked individuals in a crowd of thousands over a period of several hours.
Laura Armstrong, the city council president for the largest town near Sturgis, forewarned, “[t]hey’re not going to be able to handle any kind of social distancing; there’s a significant amount of alcohol involved, it’s a huge party. They can infect our Native American population, our law enforcement, potentially our bar staff, our tourist attractions, our hotels and motels, and even our grocery stores.” In contrast, Surgis’s own city council never even considered whether or not to approve the Rally; the question simply did not come up.