DOH traces 66 S.D. COVID-19 cases to Sturgis Rally as case numbers climb in the state, Black Hills region Original

STURGIS, S.D. (KELO) — The list of national publications that have followed the COVID-19 case surge in South Dakota includes Forbes, CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

All have cited data and analysis of the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in South Dakota as being connected to the Aug. 6-15. Most have also linked cases outside of South Dakota to the rally.

As of Sept. 13, South Dakota Department of Health spokesman Daniel Bucheli said 66 cases were linked to the rally. On Aug. 26, Bucheli said the case total was 39. The cases are in South Dakota residents only and cover the dates of the rally only.

Dr. Shankar Kurra, vice president of medical affairs for Monument Health, told KELOLAND News in early August that he and Monument expected an increase in COVID-19 cases linked to the rally. Kurra cited the more contagious Delta variant and a large percentage of unvaccinated people.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation’s 10-day traffic count for this year’s rally was 525,768 vehicles. The traffic count is one factor the city of Sturgis uses to determine the estimated rally attendance. Other factors include the amount of garbage dropped at the landfill during the rally as well as grid count of crowds.

Counties in the Black Hills region have had increases in COVID-18 cases since Aug. 6.

Meade County has 3,861 COVID-19 cases as of September 14; the county had 2,838 cases on Aug. 6. Lawrence County, another Black Hills county, has 3,802 cases as of September 14; the county had 3,046 cases on Aug. 6. Pennington County has 17,519 cases as of September 14; it had 14,098 on Aug. 6.

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