First COVID-19 death linked to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally confirmed in Minnesota

There are at least 260 positive cases from 11 different states tied to the Rally.
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 1:01 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - A biker from Minnesota who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has died of COVID-19. This is the first death from the virus linked to the 10-day rally that brought 460,000 to the Black Hills.

The Minnesota man was in his 60s, had underlying conditions and was in a hospital’s intensive care unit after the rally, Andrea Ahneman from the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed. There are at least 260 positive cases from 11 different states tied to the Rally.

South Dakota has seen a continual increase in active cases in the state just over two weeks after the 80th rally. Wednesday the state confirmed 254 new positive cases, bringing total known cases in the state to 14,003. Active cases increased by 125 to 2,875.

The city manager of Sturgis, Daniel Ainslie said coronavirus cases were on the rise before the Rally started. Additionally, Sturgis does not solely comprise Meade County.

Local doctors, like Monument Health VP of Medical Affairs Shankar Kurra said since the beginning of the rally, Meade county has seen a 264% increase in total cases. When the Rally started, Meade County had confirmed 87 total cases, Wednesday the county had 317 total.

Kurra said though Monument Health is prepared for a surge in coronavirus cases, he is worried more hospitalizations will overwhelm the intensive care units.

“My biggest fear is if the numbers keep rising then that will lead to hospitalizations,” Kurra said. “Then that will lead to morbidity and mortality and we know those are lagging indicators. They come back later, you only know the deaths after a month or so.”

The city of Sturgis paid $195,000 to pay for 1,300 tests for locals. The city was reimbursed through the CARES Act. After three days of testing, 20% of the town took tests and confirmed 26 positive cases out of 650.

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