A new study from the Institute of Labor Economics claims that a motorcycle rally held in Sturgis, SD last month has resulted in hundreds of thousands of COVID cases. In their introduction, the researchers explain how they arrived at the conclusion that this was a "super spreader" event.
"First, using anonymized cell phone data from SafeGraph, Inc. we document that (i) smartphone pings from non-residents, and (ii) foot traffic at restaurants and bars, retail establishments, entertainment venues, hotels and campgrounds each rose substantially in the census block groups hosting Sturgis rally events," the 63-page study begins.
The researchers, who represent San Diego State University, Bentley University and University of Colorado Denver, found that in counties nationwide who had a lot of Sturgis attendees, the COVID-19 case count in their home counties increased about 10.7 percent from "about a month before to a few weeks after the rally."
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem labeled the report, and the breathless media reports about it, as science fiction.
This report isn't science. It's fiction.— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) September 8, 2020
Under the guise of academic research, it's nothing short of an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis. (THREAD 1/) https://t.co/3zkmabJV2y
As she notes, the media has been wrong on the coronavirus before.
"Predictably, some in the media breathlessly report on this non-peer reviewed model, built on incredibly faulty assumptions that do not reflect the actual facts and data," Noem goes on to tweet. "At one point, academic modeling also told us that South Dakota would have 10,000 COVID patients in the hospital at our peak. Today, we have less than 70. I look forward to good journalists, credible academics, and honest citizens repudiating this nonsense."
Noem added that she believes the real objective here was to suppress Americans' "personal freedom."
"Under the guise of academic research, this report is nothing short of an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis,” Gov. Kristi Noem said in the statement to The Argus Leader. "Predictably, some in the media breathlessly report on this non-peer reviewed model, built on incredibly faulty assumptions that do not reflect the actual facts and data here in South Dakota."
Gov. Noem has been consistent on this issue, believing the doom and gloom Covid reports to be exaggerated. Back in April, she explained that she will not be issuing stay-at-home orders as other states have because she didn't want to "take too much power in a time of crisis" and force businesses to shutter.
Other skeptical readers of the study wanted to know if the researchers had also analyzed the Black Lives Matter protests that have consistently sprung up around the country these past few months. The analysts say they did, but found that because the BLM protests "were small relative to the local population and accompanied by offsetting avoidance behavior by the local population," those events did not result in as many Covid cases. Other studies, however, like one from Princeton University, have noted how violent some of the BLM protests were.