UPDATE: South Dakota health officials dismiss report calling Sturgis Rally a ‘superspreading event’ with Governor Noem calling it ‘fiction’

KELOLAND.com Original

UPDATED 3:13 p.m.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is weighing on a report on the far-reaching impacts of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The 63-page report from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics claims the Sturgis Motorcyle Rally led to an increase in COVID-19 cases in South Dakota and across the county, while costing billions in heathcare costs. 

A statement from Noem’s office calls the study “grossly misleading.”

“This report isn’t science; it’s fiction. Under the guise of academic research, this report is nothing short of an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis,” Noem said.

She goes on to criticize the media for reporting on “this non-peer reviewed model, built on incredibly faulty assumptions that do not reflect the actual facts and data here in South Dakota.”


UPDATED 12:02 p.m.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In Tuesday’s media briefing, South Dakota health officials dismissed the findings of 63-page report from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, which claims the Sturgis Motorcyle Rally led to an increase in COVID-19 cases both locally and nationally, while costing billions in heathcare costs. 

State epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said the paper is “white paper” which is not peer-reviewed. He also noted schools opened in South Dakota closely after the Sturgis Rally ended, which could have also played a role in the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in South Dakota. 

“At this point, the results do not align with the impacts of the rally among attendees in the state of South Dakota,” said Clayton who added a total of 124 South Dakota residents attended the Sturgis Rally before becoming ill with COVID-19. 

You can read the 63-page report attached below. 

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the state would need to find the source for the costs the paper states. Malsam-Rysdon also said using cell phone data to try and project COVID-19 cases is not an accurate correlation.

She added people “shouldn’t put too much stock into models.”

South Dakota’s department of health has been tracking only primary infections for South Dakota residents tied to the Sturgis Rally.


9:58 a.m.

A new report released by four economic professors with the IZA Institute of Labor Economics claims the Sturgis Motorcyle Rally led to an increase in COVID-19 cases both locally and nationally, while costing billions in heathcare costs. 

You can read the 63-page report attached below. 

The 80th annual Sturgis Rally took place between Aug. 7 and Aug. 16 in the Black Hills and Sturgis. The South Dakota Department of Health said last week the rally was a direct cause for 118 positive coronavirus cases of South Dakota residents. 

The report cites cell phone data from SafeGraph, Inc. that showed “smartphone pings from non-residents” and “foot traffic at restaurants and bars, retail establishments, entertainment venues, hotels and campgrounds each rose substantially.” 

The report also concludes: “the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally generated public health costs of approximately $12.2 billion.” 

The $12.2 billion cost is based on another estimation that $46,000 is spent per positive COVID-19 case. 

According to its website, “IZA is a nonprofit research institute and the leading international network in labor economics, comprising more than 1,600 scholars from around the world.

Established in 1998, IZA is supported by the Deutsche Post Foundation and affiliated with the University of Bonn.”

Taxes collected from the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally totaled more than $1.3 million, a 6% increase compared with 2019.

Page 3 of IZA Sturgis ReportPage 3 of IZA Sturgis Report Contributed to DocumentCloud by Eric Mayer of KELO-TVView document or read text


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