Noem to attend Sturgis charity ride amid COVID-19 spike
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) will be attending the Sturgis charity ride as hundreds of thousands of riders are expected to converge in the state as the country battles a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is being hosted from Aug. 6-Aug. 15 as the delta variant has caused a spike in coronavirus cases nationwide.
Noem has approved the event and will be participating in a charity ride, The Associated Press reported.
There are 700,000 individuals expected to show up for the rally, up by more than 225,000 individuals from last year, according to the AP.
The event last year with 460,000 people was labeled a “superspreading event” with an analysis done by IZA Institute of Labor Economics saying the event led to $12.2 billion in public health costs.
Noem condemned the analysis at the time and said it was “fiction.”
“This report isn’t science; it’s fiction,” Noem said. “Under the guise of academic research, this report is nothing short of an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis.”
The event this year is expected to bring $800 million in sales to the area, the state’s Department of Tourism said.
About 47 percent of South Dakota residents have been fully vaccinated ahead the event, data from John Hopkins University showed.
A spokesman for Noem said she planned to attend.
Updated 6:43 p.m.