South Dakota’s Sturgis Rally Roars Back as Delta Variant Rising

✱For future reference, today Wednesday the 11th, the 6th day of the rally, South Dakota reported 124 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 126,454. It’s the first time they have reported their COVID cases since the rally began.

STURGIS, S.D. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally started today, Friday, at noon amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the state today. 

Organizers expect at least 700,000 people during the 10-day event. On Thursday, the eve of the official opening, downtown Sturgis was clogged with Harleys, rallygoers packed shoulder-to-shoulder at bars and rock shows, and masks were nowhere in sight.

People sing and dance at a rock concert on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Sturgis, S.D. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally starts Friday, even as coronavirus cases rise in South Dakota. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves)

Public health experts — and some locals — worry the rally will again play host to coronavirus infections. Only about 46% of adults who live in the county that hosts Sturgis are fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared with 60.6% nationwide. Virus infections are on the rise in South Dakota after a steady decline through the spring and early summer. The Department of Health reported a 68% jump in virus infections last week, with the highly contagious delta variant spurring a larger share of those infections.

Last year’s rally transformed Sturgis, usually a quiet community of under 7,000 residents, into a travel hub comparable to a major U.S. city. One analysis of anonymous cellphone data found that well over half of counties in the country were visited by someone who attended Sturgis. Hundreds of rallygoers were infected, and a team of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control concluded the event ended up looking like a “superspreader event.”


South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem returns to ride at Sturgis motorcycle rally during major COVID spike.


Watch this genius.

Can’t get enough? Here’s some live cams for your viewing pleasure.

Here’s one of last years NV discussion.

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