Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks region played host to a large motorcycle rally last weekend, just weeks after a similar rally in South Dakota was linked to Covid-19 transmissions.
The 14th annual Bikefest Lake of the Ozarks started Wednesday, Sept. 16 and ran through Sunday, Sept. 20. Previous rallies drew over 100,000 to the area, NBC affiliate KSDK reported.
The event featured vending areas, more than 50 live shows, over 300 “biker-friendly” bars, restaurants and hotels, and a Harley Davidson giveaway, according to its website.
“If I was worried about getting sick I would have stayed home, but I wanted to have some fun,” one attendee told MSNBC, which reported that the 2020 event was “comparable” in size to prior events.
Videos posted to social media showed few masks worn by Lake of the Ozarks Bikefest attendees.
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This is not the first time the Missouri vacation region has been in the news for mass gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. After videos emerged of packed pool parties over Memorial Day weekend, state health officials asked people to self-quarantine.
The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services did not immediately respond to a NBC News request for comment.
When Missouri lifted its final statewide coronavirus restrictions in June, the state had recorded roughly 15,000 Covid-19 cases. By September, the state’s Covid-19 case count had increased significantly and as of Monday stands at 112,844, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.
An August motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota was definitively linked to Covid-19 cases in eight states and to at least one death.
One study estimated that over 250,000 cases could result from that biker bash.
In March, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx predicted that in a best-case scenario, U.S. Covid-19 deaths would reach 200,000 “if we do things almost perfectly.”
About six months later, on Saturday, the U.S. passed that milestone with 200,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths so far in 2020 with no end in sight.
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