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Where’s the sense in Sturgis rally?

Across the country in this Year of COVID-19, events large and small have been cancelled, from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to the New Ulm St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Even the Great Minnesota Get Together has told Minnesotans to stay away.

Concern about spreading the COVID-19 virus led to calling off these events. The economic cost is great, but the danger the events pose to public health was deemed even greater.

Even with these cancellations and cautions, the number of cases seems to be spiking this summer, bringing calls for mask wearing and social distancing.

So, what are we to make of the decision by the city fathers of Sturgis, S.D., to hold the town’s fabled Sturgis Motorcyle Rally, a nine-day event drawing about half a million people to the town of around 7,000. Bikers get together, drive up and down the streets, crowd into the bars and do just about whatever they want to do.

This year, with COVID-19, attendance could be down to only 250,000. We’re sure there will be signs about wearing face masks and social distancing, and we’re sure the bikers, many of whom bristle at the idea of wearing helmets, will ignore them.

We have no doubt that there will be many people infected with COVID-19 among the masses, who will infect others, who will head home after the rally and start spreading it to people they meet. There will be a surge in cases across the country at a time the nation is trying to keep this disease under control.

The economic lure is great. Rallygoers spend about $800 million during the event, a lot of money for the local businesses and for the town. But what will be the cost in people infected, people hospitalized and people killed because of the Sturgis surge?

There is just no sense in allowing this event to take place.

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