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Thousands gather for Sturgis Motorcycle Rally amid U.S. COVID-19 surge

▶ Watch Video: Thousands of bikers attend Sturgis Motorcycle Rally despite COVID-19 surge

Thousands of bikers have converged on the tiny South Dakota community of Sturgis for the annual 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The rally got underway on Friday amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the United States being fueled by the highly-contagious Delta variant. In South Dakota, cases spiked nearly 70% in the days before the rally started. 

The rally kicked off ceremoniously, with no mask mandates. No proof of vaccinations are needed, Mola Lenghi reports for “CBS This Morning: Saturday.”

“We’re not going to start checking papers. I mean, that’s not really an American way,” said Daniel Ainslie, city manager of Sturgis, which has a population of 7,000.

Last year’s rally was pinned a superspreader event. 

This year, people can drink on the streets to avoid crowded bars.

One biker, Heather Kearns, who is unvaccinated, said she hasn’t worried about COVID at all. “Not since day one,” she said.

Motorcycles fill the streets of Sturgis, South Dakota, on August 6, 2021 as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally began. 

Stephen Groves/AP

The big gathering, along with county and state fairs, come as schools are set to reopen nationwide. Debates over mask mandates are heating up, and more unvaccinated children are getting sick with the virus. More than 71,000 COVID cases were reported in children last week.

Eight states have banned districts from requiring masks in schools, while other states, like Illinois and New Jersey, became the latest states to mandate masks for K-12 students.

In Fontana, California, hi-tech temperature readers are rapidly checking 2,200 students a day at the high school where Kassandra Hernandez is a senior.

“I saw other people getting vaccinated so I was like you know what, maybe it’s a good idea especially since we’re going back to school,” she said.

More and more companies are now mandating vaccinations. 

United Airlines’ officials announced on Friday that vaccines are mandatory for its employees to work indoors or onboard. And, in the San Francisco Bay Area, 43% of companies are mandating employees be vaccinated, according to a survey that was just released.

The average case count of coronavirus infections nationwide has soared 102% over the past two weeks.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says 50% of adults in the U.S. are now fully vaccinated.



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