Colorado has reported more than 20 confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to people who attended an annual motorcycle event in Sturgis, South Dakota earlier this month.
The pandemic was expected to reduce attendance at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, KCNC-TV reported. But the event drew some 462,000 people between Aug. 7 and Aug. 16, down just 7.5% from the previous year.
Some visitors wore masks and practiced social distancing in spite of the large crowds.
State officials in Colorado are now asking those who attended the rally and have symptoms to be tested immediately, and have recommended those without symptoms be tested a week after suspected exposure.
“No one that we went with or knew up there has had any symptoms,” said Kevin Bolser, co-owner of Lucky Horsehoe Customs in Englewood. Bolser said members of his group took special precautions to camp in a remote area and self-quarantine after the event.
At least eight other states have reported coronavirus cases linked to the annual rally, tallying at least 100 people with the virus.
South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has recently stated that she questions whether face masks prevent the spread of the coronavirus, saying there is “very mixed research and the science has not proven what’s effective and what isn’t.”
Noem also welcomed those attending the rally in a tweet before the event started.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.