Sturgis Bike Rally Revs Back Bigger, Despite Virus Variant

FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2020, file photo, people fill a bar during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D. The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally refused to take 2020 off despite the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, a decision blamed for leading to a late-summer spike in cases across the Midwest. And it's about to roar right back this year, kicking off Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 with crowds expecting to be significantly larger even as the delta variant is rising. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves, File)

(AP) — Crowds of bikers are rumbling their way towards western South Dakota, raising fears that COVID-19 infections will be unleashed among the 700,000 people expected to show up at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The rally starts Friday. It’s become a haven for those eager to escape coronavirus precautions.

Last year, the rally hardly slowed down, with roughly 460,000 people attending. Masks were mostly ditched as bikers crowded into bars, tattoo parlors and rock shows, offering a lesson in how massive gatherings could spread waves of the virus across the country. This year’s rally is expected to be even bigger, despite concerns about the virus’ highly contagious delta variant.


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