Friday September 11, 2020
Here's what we were told: An August motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, helped spread COVID-19 to more than a quarter-million Americans, making it the root of about 20 percent of all new coronavirus cases in the U.S. last month. So said a new white paper from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, at least. And national news outlets ran with it.
"Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was 'superspreading event' that cost public health $12.2 billion," tweeted The Hill.
"The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held in South Dakota last month may have caused 250,000 new coronavirus cases," said NBC News.
"The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally represents a situation where many of the 'worst-case scenarios' for superspreading occurred simultaneously," the researchers write in the new paper, titled "The Contagion Externality of a Superspreading Event: The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and COVID-19."
Not so fast. Let's take a look at what they actually tracked and what's mere speculation.