PHOTOS: Virus Revs Engine As Thousands Of Maskless Bikers Attend SD Rally

STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 07: Motorcyclists ride down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officials estimate that more than 250,000 people may still show up to this year's festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 07: Motorcyclists ride down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officia... STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 07: Motorcyclists ride down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officials estimate that more than 250,000 people may still show up to this year's festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 10, 2020 10:52 a.m.
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Tens of thousands of bikers have descended upon the South Dakota city of Sturgis in recent days for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — virus be damned.

STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 07: People cheer during a concert at the Full Throttle Saloon during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officials estimate that more than 250,000 people may still show up to this year's festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
People cheer during a concert at the Full Throttle Saloon during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Scenes from Sturgis show bikers stuffed into every nook and cranny of the small city. The event, which runs from Aug. 7–16, marked its 80th anniversary this year. Somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000 people, or even more, were expected for the festivities, reports indicated. In years past, the crowd has topped 500,000.

STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 07: Motorcyclists ride down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officials estimate that more than 250,000 people may still show up to this year's festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
Motorcyclists ride down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

In May, more than 60% of Sturgis residents said they were against holding the rally, CNN noted, but the city council still approved it in an eight-to-one vote in mid-June.

STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 09: People watch a concert at the Full Throttle Saloon during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota on August 9, 2020. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officials estimate that more than 250,000 people may still show up to this year's festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
People watch a concert at the Full Throttle Saloon during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota on August 9, 2020. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

The decision to move forward with the event, a city spokesperson told CBS News, “came after hearing from thousands of attendees that they were coming to the event, even if it was canceled by the City of Sturgis.”

STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 07: Gene Haheim sells face shields during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officials estimate that more than 250,000 people may still show up to this year's festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
Gene Haheim sells face shields during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Some have stood up to the tourists, though: The rally’s website notes multiple “COVID-19 travel restrictions on tribal lands” — specifically, checkpoints at the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River reservations to screen out-of-staters and, in the latter case, reroute them around tribal land.

STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 06: People walk along Main Street a day before the start of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 6, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officials estimate that more than 250,000 people may still show up to this year's festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
People walk along Main Street a day before the start of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 6, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

The event’s rules require that vendors’ employees are provided with masks, but no one is required to wear a face covering, and photos show bikers flouting social distancing recommendations.

The Rapid City Journal, based a half-hour away from Sturgis, reported that antibody testing would be available to rallygoers for $45 a pop. Another story in the paper showed a packed crowd for the band Smash Mouth Sunday night.

STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 07: A hand sanitizer station sits along Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officials estimate that more than 250,000 people may still show up to this year's festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
A hand sanitizer station sits along Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

The virus hasn’t hit South Dakota as hard as elsewhere around the country. According to the South Dakota Department of Health on Sunday, the number of “active” cases in the state had increased by 101 over the past week — up to 1,125. Overall, according to the state’s numbers, active cases have trended upward over the past two weeks.

STURGIS, SD - AUGUST 07: Motorcyclists ride down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officials estimate that more than 250,000 people may still show up to this year's festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
Motorcyclists ride down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Most rallygoers don’t appear to have noticed the global pandemic.

A man in a cap supporting U.S. President Donald Trump rides a scooter during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 8, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota. (Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)

“I’ve not seen one single person wearing a mask,” one bar employee in Sturgis, Jessica Christian, told The Guardian. “It’s just pretty much the mentality that, ‘If I get it, I get it.’”

DEADWOOD, SD - AUGUST 08: People walk through downtown Deadwood, South Dakota during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 8, 2020. While the rally usually attracts around 500,000 people, officials estimate that more than 250,000 people may still show up to this year's festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
People walk through downtown Deadwood, South Dakota during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 8, 2020. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

“I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be cooped up all my life either,” biker Stephen Sample told USA Today.

“I’m not convinced it’s real,” another attendee, Thomas Seal, told The New York Times. “I think it’s nothing more than the flu. If I die from the virus, it was just meant to be.”

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
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COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
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