So what is the fallout from the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally last week, the biggest mass gathering in the world since the pandemic was declared?
Organisers had predicted attendance would be about 250,000, down from an annual average of almost half a million.
However, official figures are 365,979 which is only about 7% down on the previous year. Fewer people aged 60-70 attended as this is the age group statistically most vulnerable to COVID-19.
It seems many riders chose to thumb their noses at the pandemic.
This is despite 63% of the town’s citizens voting not to hold the rally. It went ahead anyway after a gift wholesaler in nearby Rapid City threatened to sue the council.
The world’s media was there to record the event, leaving some scratching their heads and others cheering for freedom.
The fallout in infection rates and deaths is yet to come as the incubation period ranges from two to 14 days.
However, the damage to motorcycling’s image may already have been done.
One of the results of the rally in the small town of Sturgis is that many of the 7000 residents, especially the elderly, will now go into a 14-day lockdown.
This will put a strain on the town’s Meals on Wheels program, so a fund was set up to collect donations for the charity.
Robert Pandya, a motorcycle industry veteran and founder of the GiveAShift motorcycling lobby group that initiated the fund drive, says they had hoped to raise $US8000.
Instead, they raised $15,750 online and collected an additional $1408 in cash along Lazelle St during the rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
That’s a total of $17,158 from motorcyclists and motorcycle brands both attending and electing to skip the rally.
While the number of infections and deaths from the spread of coronavirus is not known, we do know that there were 50 crashes reported over the 10 days of the rally.
That’s up from 41 last year.
There were four fatal crashes with five people sadly losing their lives.