“There was a considerable amount of discussions the council had with residents, businesses and state health officials, as well as local health officials,” Daniel Ainslie, the city manager, told CNN on Sunday.
The city, with fewer than 7,000 homes, sent a survey to all the families asking if they wanted the rally to continue on the scheduled date. The mass event usually brings to the crowd around 500,000 over 10 days of exciting races, contests and concerts. On its 75th anniversary, nearly three-quarters of a million people showed up.
Slightly more than 60% of people in the city voted against holding the event this week. But the city council approved it anyway.
The decision, Ainslie says, was all about being able to prepare for the crowds.
“There are people all over America who have been locked up for months and months,”; he said. “So we heard from people saying it does not matter, they are coming to Sturgis. So with that, in the end, the council decided that it was really vital that the community prepare for the extra people that we would. we end by having “
“What ‘s important for people to understand is that in a very small community and rural South West Dakota, you can not have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people come in without preparation, including garbage and sewage and extra law enforcement and emergency medical personnel, “he said.
“That was really what pushed the council to decide that we had to prepare for the number of people who came.”
Events held in the city will be limited this year, city officials told CNN, and many that usually drew crowds have been canceled.
Moreover, the city canceled ads for the daily event and “tried to minimize the rally as much as possible,” Ainslie said.
“We are telling people when they come here, go on trips through the hills, because when you are on a motorbike moving through the hills, you are absolutely distanced from society.”
‘Super spreading events are real’
The rally has always been a point of contention among city dwellers, but this year there is an added concern: a powerful virus that continues to be unequal in many American communities.
Some experts fear the event – and subsequent meetings in restaurants and bars that do not have legally enforceable capabilities – could lead to a spread of the coronavirus not only in the South Dakota community but in other parts of the country. as tourists return home.
“These super-spreading events are real,” said Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Lifespan Health System and associate professor at Brown University.
“We have reports from all over the country of a person infecting 90 or 100 (people) or even more. And so, if you have some of those infections that start in Sturgis, people come home and even have the opportunity to spread to communities. own “
And that, she said, can happen without people knowing, as symptoms can last anywhere between a few days to two weeks to appear.
“It has the potential to literally plant new spots all over the country,” she said.
The positive thing, Ranney added, is that a lot of events will happen outside. But not all.
“Those bars and those overtime events are what make me and other public health officials quite nervous.”