Harleys Everywhere, Mask Nowhere: Sturgis Dries Thousands

STURGIS, SD (AP) – Thousands of bikers descended on Sturgis’s small South Dakota town on Friday as the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally rambled to life, despite fears it could cause a major coronavirus virus outbreak .

The rally could become one of the largest public celebrations since the epidemic began, with organizers expecting 250,000 people from across the country to make their way through Sturgis during the 10-day event. This would be about half the number of previous years, but local residents – and some bikers – worry that the crowd may create a “super-spreader” phenomenon.

On Friday, many people riding their bikes in Sturgis disobeyed the rules and restrictions marking life in many places during the epidemic. People from across the country moved to a state offering to get rid of coronovirus restrictions, as South Dakota has no special limits to indoor crowds, no mask mandates, and a governor to welcome visitors and the money they bring Are eager for.

“Screw Kovid,” the design being hawked on a T-shirt. “I went to Sturgis.”

Bikers broke into hundreds of tents filled with motorcycle gear, T-shirts and food. Harley Davidson motorcycles were everywhere, but masks were almost nowhere, an Associated Press reporter counted less than 10 in a crowd of thousands of hours over a period of several hours.

For Stephen Sample riding his Harley from Arizona, the event was a break from the routines of the past several months when he stayed mostly homebound or wearing a mask when he went to work as a surveyor.

He said, “I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live my whole life.”

Still, the sample, who is 66 years old, feared what might happen if he catches COVID-19 at the rally. He said he is trying to avoid the indoor bar and venue where he felt the risk of infection was high. But on the opening day of the rally, he said he ate breakfast at an indoor dinner.

As the sample weighed the risks of navigating the crowd, the same thrilling discovery that drew him to ride a motorcycle seemed poised for victory.

“I think we’re ready to take a chance,” he said.

Republican Government. Christie Noam has taken a massive hands-on approach to avoiding an epidemic, preaching a masked mandate and personal responsibility. He supported the Sturgis rally, pointing out that none of the virus outbreaks had been documented at Mount Rushmore last month with President Donald Trump and several thousand people who turned out to watch fireworks.

Daily virus cases are trending upward in South Dakota, but the seven-day average is still about 84, with fewer than two deaths per day.

The rally considered crowds of retirees and those at greater risk from coronovirus. But for many who see the rally as an annual pilgrimage, the atmosphere and atmosphere cannot be missed.

“I fell in love with the rally. I love the sound of the bike, ”said Bill Sudkamp, ​​who was holding his 20th consecutive rally.

He and his wife, who refused to give their ages, but said they were at high risk for COVID-19, were among the handful of people wearing masks in the city’s Sturgis, a community of about 7,000 that is about 25. Miles (40 kilometers) is northwest of Rapid City. They were also planning to escape from the bars. Sudcamp felt it was inevitable that the infection would spread to packed bars and concert venues.

“It seemed that South Dakota was mostly plateauing,” Sudamp said. “It will be interesting to see what it looks like in two weeks.”

Marsha Schmid, who owns the Side Hack Salon in Sturgis, was trying to prevent her bar and restaurant from becoming a virus hot spot by placing indoor tables outside and offering plenty of hand sanitizer. He also boosted the number of bands the rally was slated for, hoping the crowd would remain thin but still spend the cash that would keep his business viable for the rest of the year.

She reported that many of her employees depended on the rally and the tips they could do.

“You’ve got people coming from all over the world,” she said. “I hope they are responsible and if they don’t feel good, they stay away.”

Many locals said they would spend the Hunkaar rally held at home. Carol Fellner stocks groceries and plans to stay away from any gathering. She said that her husband is suffering from pneumonia and kidney problems and COVID-19 will be a ‘death sentence’ for her.

Fellner felt that the risk of an outbreak would be felt long after the bikers left. The city plans to have large-scale test residents try to detect and prevent the outbreaks, but the region’s largest hospital system is already burdened with the influx of tourists and bikers, who are in the care of the hospital during this Is essentially required.

The sample knew that his journey to the rally could end in the hospital, which he feels.

“This is a major experiment,” he said. “This can be a big mistake.”