SScientists used genomic testing to show how COVID-19 spread from a notorious weeklong motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota over the summer to dozens of residents from Minnesota who didn’t even attend.
There has been controversy over how much virus was spread by the August event, with a group of economists using cellphone data estimating 266,000 cases could be linked to the rally and others calling that is fiction.
But a new study released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used genomic sequencing in virus samples to find similarities between patients and prove the cases were linked.
The results: He identified 51 Minnesotans who contracted coronavirus while participating in the rally – and 35 other residents of that state who contracted it from the original group or a secondary patient. Four were hospitalized and one died.
Researchers said that a third of counties in Minnesota had a case that could be traced to Sturgis. Minnesota, like much of the Upper Midwest, is now facing a fierce epidemic. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz this week ordered bars, restaurants and other public places to shut down for a month in hopes of reducing infections there.
“These results highlight the dramatic effects that gatherings in one area could have on another,” the researchers wrote. “The motorcycle rally was held in a neighboring state which did not have a policy regarding event size and mask use, highlighting the implications of policies within and between jurisdictions.”
That’s a long way to say that a state like South Dakota, which has ignored precautions like mask requirements, can still mess other states up by trying to do the right thing.
The researchers also noted that the 86 cases represent only those that are confirmed and that the true number is likely higher, as some of those exposed to the gatherers refused to speak to contact-tracers or provide samples.
It was also limited to Minnesota. But the roughly 365,000 people who attended the rally – most avoiding masks and many crowding into bars regardless of social distancing – were from all over the United States and would likely have brought the virus back to their home states. ‘origin with similar effects.
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