Fauci ‘very concerned’ about COVID-19 surge following Sturgis rally
Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, on Sunday said he is “very concerned” that there may be another surge in South Dakota brought on by the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which is expected to be attended by hundreds of thousands.
NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked Fauci how he expected the rally to impact the Midwest region of the U.S., noting that the Dakotas became the top two states for new COVID-19 cases in 2020 shortly after the rally.
“Well I’m very concerned, Chuck, that we’re going to see another surge related to that rally,” Fauci said.
“I mean, to me it’s understandable that people want to do the kinds of things they want to do. They want their freedom to do that. But there comes a time when you’re dealing with a public health crisis that could involve you, your family and everyone else, that something supersedes that need to do exactly what you want to do,” Fauci said.
He added that individuals will “ultimately” be able to resume their activities in the future, but added, “Let’s get this pandemic under control before we start acting like nothing’s going on. I mean, something bad is going on. I mean we’ve got to realize that.”
Thousands of bikers arrived at the rally on Friday, which Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, is expected to attend. Sturgis city manager Dan Ainslie said organizers had encouraged people in high risk categories to attend next year instead.
An analysis released by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics last year found that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was a superspreader event that resulted in around $12.2 billion in public health costs. Researchers linked around 266,000 COVID-19 cases to the event that was attended by more than 460,000. At least one death was linked to the rally last year.
Noem attacked the analysis, calling it a “fiction” and an “attack” on personal freedom.
Like much of the country, new COVID-19 cases in South Dakota have risen in the past few weeks as the more infectious delta variant continues to spread.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the seven-day moving average for new cases has risen to nearly 40 after having dropped to as low as four in June.
According to the South Dakota Department of Health, nearly 60 percent of the state’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.