Despite the Headlines, Experts Are Skeptical of Study Linking Sturgis to Over 260,000 Cases of COVID-19


MINOT, N.D. — There is a faction in the news media that would like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, held in South Dakota last month despite the ongoing pandemic, to be the “superspreader” event researchers at San Diego State University have said it was.

Bikers are a largely white, mostly male and quite Trumpy demographic. They’re prone to scoff at the perils of the pandemic and eschew things like masking and social distancing, which makes them the perfect villains in some ideologically compromised quarters of the news industry.

This is why, when those SDSU researchers issued a report linking the Sturgis event to more than 260,000 cases of COVID-19, so many in the news media couldn’t help but suspend the skepticism which should be inherent in their professions and pounce.

The headline was everywhere last week, but the report’s findings, whatever political narratives it perpetuated, should have been approached with more caution. As it stands now, millions of Americans now likely believe that the Sturgis rally made more than a quarter of a million people sick, based on a preliminary report, written by economists, not medical experts, that has not yet been peer-reviewed.

I urged skepticism, if not outright dismissal, and some criticized me for that.

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