Minnesota announced that more than a dozen people who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in neighboring South Dakota have tested positive for the coronavirus, making it the third state to link cases of the virus to the massive rally.
One confirmed case linked to the rally, which drew 460,000 vehicles, was identified Thursday and 14 additional ones on Friday, said the Minnesota Department of Health’s infectious disease division director, Kris Ehresmann.
Ehresmann said during a conference call with news outlets, including NBC affiliate KARE in Minneapolis, that 14 of those found to be infected were attendees at the rally and one was a volunteer who worked “in a temporary bar situation.”
“We’re expecting that we’re going to see many more cases associated with Sturgis,” she said. “Thousands of people attended that event, and so it’s very likely that we will see more transmission.”
One person who tested positive has been hospitalized, according to Ehresmann.
The rally that ran from Aug. 7 to Aug. 16 in Sturgis, about 30 miles northwest of Rapid City, drew attendees on more than 460,000 vehicles, the South Dakota Department of Transportation said.
That was down nearly 8 percent from the roughly 500,000 vehicles at last year’s rally, but significantly higher than the 250,000 people who had been expected to gather for the event this year amid the pandemic.
Minnesota is the third state to report coronavirus cases linked to the huge gathering.
Earlier this week, South Dakota health officials said a resident who visited One-Eyed Jack’s Saloon during the rally had tested positive for the virus. The health department warned that anyone who was at the bar on Aug. 11 between noon and 5:30 p.m. that day should “monitor for symptoms for 14 days after they visited.”
In neighboring Nebraska, at least seven new cases have been tied to the motorcycle rally, according to the Panhandle Public Health District. The health department did not provide further details on the cases.
In North Dakota, the health department has urged residents who attended Sturgis to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“Did you return to ND from the 2020 motorcycle rally in Sturgis this week? Be advised: surrounding states, including South Dakota & Minnesota, are reporting positive cases from the rally. Monitor yourself closely for symptoms; if you develop any, isolate until you can be tested,” the agency tweeted Friday.
A request for comment from North Dakota health officials on whether any coronavirus cases in the state have been linked to the rally did not receive an immediate response Saturday.