Seven more Minnesotans who attended this month's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, state health officials said Sunday.
Minnesota health officials announced on Friday 15 cases that were associated with attending the 10-day event in South Dakota. The annual rally draws motorcyclists from across the country.
Health officials don't know for certain that the 22 people were exposed at the event, but they think it's very likely since individuals are not reporting links to any known cases, said Kris Ehresmann, the director of infectious diseases at the Minnesota Department of Health.
"Unfortunately, I think this is just the beginning of the cases we will see from Sturgis," Ehresmann said via e-mail.
Cases with connections to the rally are being reported in other states, as well. On Sunday, health officials in South Dakota said fewer than 40 cases have now been associated with Sturgis — up from fewer than 25 associated cases last week.
On Saturday, a spokeswoman with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services told the Star Tribune the state had seen COVID-19 cases in two people who attended the rally, but had not yet determined if they had other potential exposures. Seven cases have been connected to Sturgis among residents of western Nebraska, an official with the Panhandle Public Health District told the Star Tribune on Saturday.
Last week, a North Dakota official told the Star Tribune that seven cases in that state had been connected with Sturgis.
One of the Minnesota cases announced Friday involved a person being hospitalized, but health officials didn't release updated information this weekend.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally ended Aug. 16, so health officials say cases could emerge over the next few weeks. South Dakota officials estimate the event drew more than 460,000 vehicles this year.
Before the event near Rapid City, Minnesota health officials expressed concern about the potential for the virus to spread at large indoor/outdoor gatherings like the Sturgis rally. The Health Department didn't see a lot of transmission in June linked to protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but feared that Sturgis could be different because the rally was so much larger, Ehresmann said, and included activity at bars, restaurants and campgrounds.
Christopher Snowbeck • 612-673-4744