Interviews this week at the Sturgis Rally suggest many attendees of the days-long death march here are unvaccinated people who are maskless and untaxed.
Experts are suggesting the event’s wide reach, along with the spiral of the new and unrelenting Delta variant, could spell disaster across the country.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota professor of public health and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research told The Daily Beast,
“Hope’s not a strategy right now. Vaccination is…
And there will be people who will be infected as a result of this event. The question for everybody is, how many?”
All this is happening as the Delta variant is rapidly spreading across the country, sending thousands of people to hospitals, and many to morgues.
Carl McCormack, 55, and Andrew Rick, 54, both of Blackhawk, S.D., a small town just outside of Rapid City, said they took two weeks vacation during the rally each year to ride and party.
Neither one is vaccinated, and they are not alone. Rick says,
“No one I know is vaccinated.”
One major difference from the 2021 Sturgis Rally and the 2020 event is the fact that the Delta variant may spread far more easily.
Greg Bailey, 55, of Washington state is at his 12th rally. He a longshoreman and is not vaccinated –and doesn’t see the need, despite the fact that he has also worked as an EMT for 24 years.
“I don’t listen to politicians. They’re going to lie. It’s all about votes, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t trust either party.”
If you wore a mask in this crowd
you might get called names, like –”Democrat!“
Politics or not, people here might think they are safe at outdoor concerts and other events.
Dr. Osterholm said that they are still at risk…
“This virus does not discriminate who it will infect.
What happens, though, is whether or not you’re vaccinated or not makes a big difference when that happens. You can’t run out the game clock with this virus. A lot of people think,
Well, I haven’t been vaccinated yet, I haven’t gotten infected yet. You know, it’s not going to infect me, it’ll be over with soon.’
“Just know that this virus will find you.”
Lawrence Gostin, a global health-law expert at Georgetown says that linked to the biker festival there could be,
“hundreds of preventable deaths…
“Even in outdoor settings, congregating large crowds of unvaccinated and unmasked bikers is a recipe for extreme danger. What worries me is not only the fact that these riders will become infected, but also that they will travel back to their hometowns and infect their family, neighbors, and co-workers.
The rally is not just a danger for South Dakota, but for the nation.”
Dr. Shankar Kurra, vice president of Medical Affairs at Monument Health said,
“Yes, we are very likely as a result of the massive gathering of people during an ongoing pandemic direct witness to a wide dissemination or spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the region and beyond.”
Local medical professionals have already begun bracing for impact.
(Photos, YouTube; via The Daily Beast)