BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health has found 18 cases of COVID-19 in the state linked to the recent Sturgis Motorcycle Rally as of Tuesday, Aug. 25.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation counted more than 460,000 vehicles at the 10-day event, making it one of the country's biggest public gatherings since the pandemic began.

In the last two weeks, Upper Midwest states have confirmed dozens of cases tied to the rally, where attendees largely ignored COVID-19 preventative measures like mask-wearing and social distancing.

Barry Eide, who works in a grain elevator in northwest North Dakota, has been going to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for 16 years. Getting tattooed at Old School Tattoo, in downtown Sturgis, has become an annual ritual. Adam Willis / The Forum.
Barry Eide, who works in a grain elevator in northwest North Dakota, has been going to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for 16 years. Getting tattooed at Old School Tattoo, in downtown Sturgis, has become an annual ritual. Adam Willis / The Forum.

Thirty-seven cases in South Dakota and 27 cases in Minnesota are now linked to the rally. Nebraska health officials have traced seven positives back to Sturgis, according to the Scottsbluff Star-Herald. New cases in Wyoming, Montana, Wisconsin and Washington state have also been linked to the rally.

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Forum News Service reporter Jeremy Fugleberg calculated from various news reports that more than 100 cases across the country are linked to the rally. Medical experts say the true case count tied to the rally will never be known due to the lack of contact tracing and attendees' unwillingness to get tested for the illness.

South Dakota health officials have discovered several possible COVID-19 exposure spots in and around Sturgis, including One-Eyed Jack's Saloon and Asylum Tattoo shop. Photos from the rally also showed attendees standing close to each other on the street and at outdoor concerts.

North Dakota health department spokeswoman Nicole Peske said those who attended the rally "are encouraged to closely monitor for symptoms and get tested at one of the free testing locations" across the state. The department has also asked rally attendees on social media to be aware that COVID-19 cases in other states have been linked to the event.

Gov. Doug Burgum is expected to address the cases stemming from Sturgis at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.