At least six New Hampshire residents were among the more than 100 COVID-19 cases reported from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, state health officials say.
The announcement from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services comes as the state plays host to its own motorcycle rally. Laconia Motorcycle Week ends Sunday.
“We cannot stress this enough — Granite Staters who attended Sturgis need to quarantine upon return to New Hampshire.” said Gov. Chris Sununu in a statement. “While Laconia Bike Week has strong public health guidance in place, it is clear that Sturgis took a very different path and we are seeing the results nationally and in our state unfortunately. We all need to do our part in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and staying home if you attended Sturgis keeps everyone safe.”
Public health departments in multiple states are trying to measure how much the coronavirus spread during the 10-day rally in the small South Dakota city before participants traveled home. So far, more than 100 cases associated with the Sturgis event have been confirmed.
“Because there are multiple locations in Sturgis with potential community exposure and the number of confirmed cases associated with the event will continue to increase, anyone who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have been exposed and potentially contracted COVID-19,” New Hampshire health officials said in a news release.
The Sturgis rally was held from Aug. 7 to Aug. 16 and drew more than 460,000 motorcycles, the South Dakota Transportation Department said, down from the roughly 500,000 vehicles at last year’s event.
DHHS recommends any New Hampshire resident who attended the Sturgis rally get a coronavirus test. They should also be quarantining for 14 days after returning and monitor for symptoms, according to New Hampshire’s travel guidance.
Laconia Motorcycle Week began last weekend. When asked if officials are aware of any link between the Sturgis rally and Laconia Bike Week, DHHS spokesperson Laura Montenegro said in an email, “We would have no way of knowing that unless it was self-reported.”
“Public notifications regarding Sturgis were necessary because of the large volume of individuals who participated in the rally and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases identified among participants soon after the event concluded,” wrote Montenegro. “Since there are already six cases involving residents of New Hampshire and the possibility that other residents traveled to Sturgis, notification is intended to keep those individuals, their close contacts, and our communities safe.”
Sununu issued an emergency order earlier this month ahead of Bike Week requiring everyone attending gatherings of more than 100 people to wear a mask.
In announcing the regulation, Sununu said he was issuing the order after seeing photos of large numbers of unmasked people at the Sturgis rally.
“Sturgis was a clear warning sign to us,” Sununu said at a news conference announcing the order. “I don’t think anybody saw the photos out of Sturgis and said, ‘That looks good.’ We will not hesitate to impose penalties or fines for those who willfully or dangerously violate the rules we put forth.”
Montenegro said people at any event or large gathering in the state should wear masks, maintain 6-foot social distancing, and stay home if you feel sick.
COVID-19 can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, congestion, sore throat, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in taste or smell.