South Dakota Governor Says Economists ‘Made Up’ Prediction For Coronavirus Cases Due To Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

( South Dakota’s Republican Governor Kristi Noem is disputing the widely-publicized notion that a motorcycle rally in her state could cause up to 250,000 coronavirus infections.

A study released by economists recently predicted the astronomical infection numbers that they believe will be caused by the state’s annual Sturgis rally, which was held in August. But Noem said the economists “made up some numbers and published them.”

The number of new coronavirus infections in South Dakota has risen 126% over the last two weeks, but the total number is only 3,700 in that time. One death has been linked to the 10-day Sturgis rally, but there were more than 400,000 people who were estimated to have attended.

Four U.S. economists conducted the study, which was published by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, which is based in Germany. The study said crowded conditions and “minimal mask-wearing and social distancing by attendees” created a “superspreading event” that will likely result in 266,796 coronavirus infections.

Noem quickly fired back, though, saying only 124 new cases of coronavirus in South Dakota have been linked to the rally. She recently commented on the economists’ study to Fox News, saying:

“That’s actually not factual whatsoever. What they did is they took a snapshot in time and they did a lot of speculation, did some back of the napkin math and made up some numbers and published them. This study wasn’t even done by a health care study. It was done by the Institute of Labor Economics, and it’s completely untrue.”

According to NBC News, the economists used cellphone data to track the foot traffic at restaurants, bars and other venues in the area of Sturgis, then “extrapolated a possible infection count based on increased infection rates following the event.”

The economists are saying their findings are real. One of those who participated in the study, Dhaval Dave, said:

“We stand by the entirety of our coronavirus research. We used publicly available data that other researchers have used, including the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). These are not forecasting exercises.”

Dave is a professor of economics at Bentley University, which is located in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Public health experts have pointed to the doubling in South Dakota coronavirus as well as an increase in cases in neighboring states such as Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and Minnesota as a “good indication” that the Sturgis rally is where the cases originated from.

But so far, those thoughts are only conjecture. While it’s possible that the Sturgis rally could’ve caused the cases, it’s not a definite yet. And there’s certainly no evidence at this point that Sturgis will likely result in the 266,796 coronavirus infections that the economists have predicted.

Noem further explained her point when she said:

“You know, other states are tracking cases. I think we have 11 other cases that have tracked, you know, people that have traveled to the Sturgis motorcycle bike rally, but it’s less than 300 cases.”