South Dakota governor defends Sturgis rally: It's about 'personal choices'

South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemSouth Dakota GOP lawmakers summon two employees for Noem inquiry Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' Biden presses companies to get ahead of vaccine mandate MORE (R) defended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that brought hundreds of thousands of people to the state against critics who say it was irresponsible to have the event during a surge of COVID-19 cases.

“I think it’s interesting that this side, this political party, the Democrats, who embrace getting abortion on demand, are accusing us of embracing death when we’re just allowing people to make personal choices and have personal responsibility over when they want to assemble, when they want to gather and spend time outdoors enjoying their way of life,” Noem said Friday on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle.”

So we’ve had a fantastic event here in South Dakota. The rally will end ... Sunday, I guess ... and they’re having a fantastic time. We’re glad everybody made the trip to South Dakota,” she added.

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Health officials expressed concerns about the rally becoming a superspreader event, with President BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE’s chief medical officer, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci says it's recommended to get same vaccine for COVID-19 boosters The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Timken rolls out six-figure ad campaign, hits Fauci MORE, saying he was “very concerned” a surge of cases would come from the event.

"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.

Noem attended the rally that began on Aug. 6 and will end Aug. 15.

Last year’s rally had 460,000 people show up in the area. There were $12.2 billion in health care costs related to the event, an analysis done by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics showed.

The analysis has been criticized since it was published, with Noem calling it “fiction.”

Another big event held recently amid a spike in coronavirus cases was Lollapalooza, a music festival held in Chicago that had hundreds of thousands of attendees. The city’s top public health officials said there was “no evidence” the festival was a superspreader event.