Bogus Study Claims Sturgis Rally Led to 266k Coronavirus Cases
Just months after the liberal media decided that disobeying social distancing guidelines was A-OK as long it was to protest for a left-wing cause, they’ve decided that the Sturgis motorcycle rally risks bringing about the apocalypse.
It does appear to be true that the coronavirus doesn’t spread as quickly outdoors – but that doesn’t excuse the hypocrisy of the left who for months branded anyone who wanted to leave their home a “grandma killer.”
While they’d never do such an analysis of Black Lives Matter protests that have attracted millions nationwide, the latest horribly designed study spawned to create sensationalist headlines found that the recent Sturgis rally was a “superspreading event that cost public health $12.2 billion” (as The Hill puts it). The study, conducted by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, also claimed that 266,000 cases were tied to the rally, which nearly half a million attended.
Debunking this study is about as simple as reading their methodology.
They arrive at the $12.2 billion estimated public health cost by assuming each person who caught the virus would cost $46,000 to treat. The median cost of a coronavirus hospitalization is just over $14,000, and the vast majority of those who catch the virus don’t require that. The median person who tests positive and have symptoms costs about $3,000 to treat, and a significant share have no symptoms at all.
Just as the cost of treating the virus is out of proportion with reality in this study, so is their estimate of the spread. While the study ties 266,000 cases to the rally, even The Hill has to note that “260 cases in 11 states have been officially connected to the rally by government officials.” So the confirmed number must be missing a comma and three zeroes according to this study.
As Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason notes, the way they arrived at the 266,000 figure is nonsensical:
To get to the astronomical number of cases allegedly spread because of Sturgis, the researchers analyzed “anonymized cellphone data to track the smartphone pings from non-residents and movement of those before and after the event. The study then linked those who attended and traveled back to their home states, and compared changes in coronavirus trends after the rally’s conclusion.”
Essentially, the researchers assumed that new spikes in cases in areas where people went post-rally must have been caused by those rally attendees, despite there being no particular evidence that this was the case. The paper, which has not been peer-reviewed, failed to account for simultaneous happenings—like schools in South Dakota reopening, among other things—that could have contributed to coronavirus spread in some of the studied areas.
Or in other words, the study assumes that had a Sturgis attendee went home to an area where coronavirus cases were growing, that individual was therefore responsible for all those additional cases, even if there’s no evidence whatsoever the Sturgis attendee themselves had the virus.
As South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem put it, “this report isn’t science; it’s fiction. Under the guise of academic research, this report is nothing short of an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis,”