Covid-19 Updates: 3 States Link Cases to Sturgis Rally

The coronavirus circulated at the Sturgis motorcycle rally, then spilled outward.

Health officials in several states are linking cases of the virus to the 10-day Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota, which drew hundreds of thousands of participants this month in spite of the pandemic.

Kris Ehresmann, the infectious disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health, said at a briefing on Friday that at least 15 cases in Minnesota were identified as having originated from rally attendees. Seven more cases were identified in Nebraska, according to reporting from CNN.

Health officials in South Dakota said this week that they had traced several cases to a popular bar along Sturgis’s main street, where photos showed thousands of people congregating without masks over the course of the rally.

An analysis of the geographical footprint of the rally’s attendees by a company using anonymized cellphone location data showed that the event drew participants from across the country, prompting fears that infections could spread further. The map of migration patterns associated with the rally showed participants traveling to Sturgis from locations across the continental United States, and back.

The rally ended last Sunday, but health officials warn that it will take time before the extent of associated outbreaks can be measured, as it can take days for symptoms to appear in people who have been infected.

Ms. Ehresmann said on Friday that she expected to see more cases recorded as additional information about the outbreak and subsequent contact tracing became available.

Struggling to salvage some normalcy — and revenue — from a crippling pandemic, more than a third of the country’s 5,000 campuses are trying limited openings, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. There are strict rules: No parties. Mandated coronavirus tests or routine self-checks for symptoms. No setting foot into public spaces without masks.

But outbreaks at dozens of colleges have underscored the limitations of any college to control the behavior of young people who are paying for the privilege to attend classes.

Recent videos from several campuses — such as the University of North Georgia — have shown scores or hundreds of students gathering without masks or social distance. On Thursday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill moved undergraduates to remote instruction when at least 177 students tested positive, largely in clusters linked to dormitories, sororities and fraternities.

Residence hall advisers are the front line in dorms. Students started arriving over the past week at Cornell University, and Jason Chang, a 24-year-old doctoral student who oversees undergraduates in his dorm, has been overwhelmed with violations of distancing rules.

“Constant insanity and madness,” Mr. Chang said. “That’s been my life this week.”

Penalties can run to suspensions and expulsions from campus housing, but education officials say it is generally not in the nature of colleges and universities to function like police states.

Many university officials seem to be relying on students to report one another to enforce coronavirus restrictions. Some colleges are advertising hotlines where students can anonymously report unsafe behavior.

A recent TikTok video that has more than 3.4 million views captured the spirit of self-enforcement, with two young men warning that they would rather tell on their classmates than be sent home. “I will rat you out,” one emphatically warns, adding: “I’m not doing Khan Academy from home. I refuse. And I hate the cops.”

As India this weekend approaches a total of three million confirmed coronavirus cases — the third highest globally after the United States and Brazil — the South Asian nation continues its delicate balance between allowing public life like major religious festivals to go ahead while also adding restrictions aimed at thwarting the virus.

The country’s Supreme Court on Friday allowed three Jain temples to open for a two-day festival in Mumbai, the Indian city hit hardest city by the pandemic, raising concern that the religious shrines will become super-spreader sites.

After petitions were circulated by some religious groups, the court had last month advocated the reopening of places of worship, arguing that the livestreaming of rituals was an inadequate substitute for physical visits to the sites.

But many regional governments in the country are continuing to bring in restrictions on public gatherings. In the northern state of Punjab, the chief minister has limited them to no more than four people.

India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, recorded 69,878 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday — the fourth consecutive day on which more than 60,000 new cases were added. As of Saturday morning, it had recorded a total of 2,975,700 cases and 55,794 deaths, according to a Times database.

The country was subject to one of the world’s strictest lockdowns

Read More: Covid-19 Updates: 3 States Link Cases to Sturgis Rally

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