250,000 Maskless, Clueless Bikers Descend On Small South Dakota Town
In what may go down in history as the stupidest biker-related moment since Altamont, nearly 250,000 bikers are gathering in Sturgis, South Dakota for a big biker rally, where they will, uh, ride their bikes, refer to their spouses as their old ladies (probably) and not wear masks ... at a time when COVID-19 rates are spiking all over the country again because of people continuing to do stupid shit like this. What could possibly go wrong?
So far, there have been a lot of the expected interviews with people who know they are taking a risk, but feel like it's worth it for some reason.
One attendee, Stephen Sample, said he rode his bike from Arizona for the event.
"I don't want to die, but I don't want to be cooped up all my life either," the 66-year-old said.
Sample said he does have concerns about catching the virus and will try to avoid indoor bars and venues, where he feels there is a greater risk.
"I think we're all willing to take a chance," he said.
Sure, but are the people at their grocery stores back home also willing to take a chance?
It would be one thing if the only people who were being put at risk by attending this event were the bikers themselves. Personally, I think people have every right to do all kinds of unsafe shit when it comes to their own bodies. The problem is that their choices could affect the bodies of others who are less interested in "taking a chance."
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has been making the rounds this week talking about how everything is going to be totally fine because South Dakota has not had a lot of cases. Noem even went on The Ingraham Angle to brag, and was congratulated on her fine job of doing absolutely nothing by Laura Ingraham herself.
Via Fox News, so pardon all of the bullshit:
Host Laura Ingraham noted that South Dakota has a death rate that is 11 times lower than New York State, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is under fire both for his draconian economic lockdown policies but also a health department's order that led to high numbers of deaths in state nursing homes.
She added that she wished leaders in the Northeast had as much prescience and consideration as Noem.
"The story and that needs to be told, is that I trusted my people, they trusted me, they took personal responsibility for dealing with this virus, and we are doing very well," Noem said.
"Not only do we have one of the lowest death rates, we've got about 40 people in the hospital today statewide, our infection rates are low, our job losses are low, our economy is doing better than virtually any other state, and I think it's a real testimony to what could have been possible in other states, but those governors just made the wrong decisions."
This is true! South Dakota has had very few cases comparatively. It's not really because of the "absolutely nothing" she's done though, so much as it is the fact that South Dakota simply does not have that many people in it! It has 884,659 people, total. That's like, Indianapolis or Jacksonville, spread out over an entire state. That's not "personal responsibility," that's social distancing.
However, when you take 250,000 more people — more than a quarter of your entire population — from all around the country and shove them into one tiny 7,000 person town without masks on, things are going to spread quite fast. Because that is how this works. South Dakota is not magic, there's not something in the air preventing COVID-19 from spreading, Mt. Rushmore is not an anti-viral. It's just that there are not a lot of people there. Duh.
It's probably not going to end well, but then again, we're all sending kids back to school and people are refusing to wear masks all over anyway, so it's hard to say that anything would.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse