RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Monument Health says it expects a rise in COVID-19 cases in the Black Hills after the event. In fact, the Sturgis Rally has all the makings of a super spreader event.
After the bikers are gone and the Black Hills area is back to normal, doctors expect to see a sharp increase in the number of South Dakotans infected with COVID-19. The reasons, a large percentage of unvaccinated people and the propensity of the Delta variant to spread more easily. According to Dr. Shankar Kurra, one infected person with the Delta variant can transmit it to 5 others versus just 2 others in the case of the original COVID-19 virus. Dr. Kurra says the Fourth of July celebrations gave them a good example of when to expect a surge in cases.
“It was roughly about ten days after all of those celebrations so we can expect in that time frame 10 to 14 days after the rally,” said Kurra.
Tom Hanson: What are you telling people to do to stay safe?
“The most important thing is if you have symptoms please get tested. The only way we are going to find if there is an outbreak surge or spread is if we get tested, the more we can test the more we can contact trace and then isolate those folks, the more successful we will be in stopping the spread,” said Kurra.
Tom Hanson: You guys are doing some work in partnership with the South Dakota Department of Health, how is that going and what are you doing?
“Yes, great partnership with the department of health, free test kits, free antigen kits are being given at the visitors center, we don’t have a shortage of anything, so the supplies are good for everything from testing to PPE’s, we are ready in case the inevitable rise in cases occurs after a mass gathering event like the Sturgis Rally,” said Kurra.
Dr. Kurra stresses that getting vaccinated is the one clear path to putting the pandemic behind us. He says adults have to take precautions because kids 12 and under remain at risk.
The rally wraps up on August 15th. Eight days later is the first day of school in Sturgis.
The city of Sturgis says, so far its received requests for 32 coronavirus tests since the rally began.
Dr. Kurra says the vaccine is widely available for rally-goers. All they have to do is walk into any clinic and request a shot and they can get it right away.