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250,000 COVID-19 infections from Sturgis? “Made up” numbers, says SD governor



The governor of South Dakota on Wednesday told controversial economists who say the Sturgis motorcycle rally last month potentially caused up to 250,000 coronavirus infections. They said they just “made up and published some numbers”.

Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, questioned the math despite the fact that her state has reported a 126 percent increase in new coronavirus cases (over 3,700) in the past two weeks and one death has been linked to the 10-day rally , which attracted more than 400,000 people and exacerbated the coronavirus crisis in neighboring states.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem speaks in Sioux Falls on June 22, 2020.Stephen Groves / AP file

“This is actually not at all factual,”

; Noem said in an interview with FOX News about the economists’ study. “What they did is take a snapshot in time and speculate a lot, do some of the napkin math, and make up some numbers and publish them. That study wasn’t even done by a health study, but by the Institute of Labor Economics and is completely wrong. “

The study of four American economists, published by the German IZA Institute for Labor Economics, assumed that crowded conditions combined with “minimal wear of masks and social distancing by participants” led to an “extremely widespread event” that will likely lead to 266,796 COVID-19 infections.

Noem insisted that only 124 new cases in South Dakota were linked to the Sturgis bash, which took place August 7-16.

“You know, other states are pursuing cases. I think we have 11 other cases that have been following people who have traveled to the Sturgis motorcycle rally, but there are fewer than 300 cases,” Noem said.

The quartet reached their conclusions by collecting cell phone data to track pedestrian traffic in bars, restaurants and other venues in Sturgis and “extrapolating a possible infection count based on increased infection rates after the event,” NBC News reported Tuesday.

“We stand by all of our coronavirus research,” Dhaval Dave, an economics professor at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, told NBC News. “We used publicly available data that other researchers used, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These are not predictive exercises.”

The results of the IZA economists back what public health experts told NBC News earlier that the doubling of COVID-19 cases in South Dakota and the increase of new cases also reported in neighboring North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska a good indication is that the falls can be directly linked to the Sturgis rally.

The only Sturgis casualty, a Minnesota man in his sixties with underlying illness, was hospitalized after returning from the rally, the Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed.

Noem is an ally of President Donald Trump and has defended the president’s much-criticized response to the pandemic. She also hosted Trump’s July 3rd Independence Day celebration on Mount Rushmore, when hundreds of attendees barely tried to maintain social distance or wear masks.

South Dakota, one of the most sparsely populated states in the country, has reported 173 deaths out of 15,403 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the latest figures from NBC News.

But many of these cases were reported after Noem reopened her state at Trump’s urging when the pandemic was just beginning to ripple across the plains.

Trump, who has been criticized for downplaying the dangers of the virus and reacting too slowly to the crisis, has often stood up against scientists and public health experts who questioned his false claims about the progress of the pandemic and his administration’s strategy to have.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s foremost infectious disease experts, survived an attempt by the White House to discredit him in July.

Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 rose from 6,357,241 confirmed cases to 190,880, both world-leading figures.

According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard, the United States is due to nearly a quarter of the more than 27.6 million cases and about a fifth of the nearly 900,000 deaths worldwide.

In other coronavirus news:

  • More than 20 million jobs were lost as a result of the pandemic, and conventional evidence suggests that Americans fortunate enough to still be busy would be stuck in their jobs. But The Associated Press reported Wednesday that nearly 3.4 million people quit their jobs in July, up from 2.8 million in June. “The increase was unusual as people are typically reluctant to quit jobs when the job market is weak,” the AP reported. “But some people seem to be staying home to avoid infection and others are taking care of children who cannot go back to school because of the pandemic.” While Trump has repeatedly claimed that the economy is recovering quickly, there were 20 percent fewer job postings in August than in the same month last year. In the most affected hotel and tourism industry, job advertisements fell by 47 percent, according to the AP.

  • Trick or treat is banned in Los Angeles this Halloween, NBC Los Angeles reported. Citing the corona virus, the district’s Ministry of Health also used the kibosh at Halloween parties and carnivals and announced that haunted houses would also be banned for boys and ghouls this year. “Because some of the traditional ways this holiday is celebrated don’t allow you to minimize contact with non-household members, it is important to plan early and identify safer alternatives,” the agency’s website said.


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