A Minnesota man who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota last month and tested positive for COVID-19 has died, health officials confirmed Wednesday.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the unidentified man was in his 60s and had underlying health conditions. He had been hospitalized in an intensive care unit prior to his death, KSTP reported.
The death is the first known coronavirus-related fatality linked to the annual 10-day rally that concluded Aug. 16 and attracted more than 460,000 vehicles, according to figures compiled by South Dakota’s Department of Transportation.
Within 10 days of the rally’s conclusion, more than 100 COVID-19 cases linked to the gathering had been confirmed in eight states. By Wednesday, at least 260 cases in 11 states have been tied directly to the event, according to a survey of health departments by The Washington Post.
Kris Ehresmann, infectious-disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health, told the Post that although novel coronavirus cases have spiked across the Midwest in recent weeks due to people ignoring public health guidelines , the rally posed a unique threat.
A Camber Systems analysis of anonymized cellphone data found that 61% of all U.S. counties had been visited by a Sturgis rallygoer, the Post reported. Ehresmann said an untold number of those rallygoers likely returned to locales that had previously remained geographically insulated from the virus’ reach.
“You have the potential to amplify transmission in multiple places. That’s what’s concerning from a broader public health standpoint,” Ehresmann told the Post.
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