Antibody test in Sturgis gives ‘peace’ to rally goers

One vendor is selling a hot ticket item, an antibody test.
One vendor is selling a hot ticket item, an antibody test.(Connor Matteson)
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 4:58 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - It’s probably the largest gathering since the United States reported it’s first COVID patient, the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Despite no mask mandates and difficult social distancing situations, bars are packed, concerts are crowded and the streets are busy, with attendance numbers comparative to previous rallies.

“The South Dakota Department of Health and the CDC state that large gatherings and especially gatherings at bars are the highest risk settings for the spread of Coronavirus,” says Nancy Babbitt, a doctor at Creekside Medical Clinic.

But in those large rally gatherings, masks are unpopular.

“There’s a few absolutes we do know about how to prevent the spread of coronavirus and it’s avoiding respiratory droplet contact, so the mask helps reduce that,” says Babbitt.

Wednesday is traditionally the busy “turn around” day for visitors, early arrivals are hitting the road, but a new group is just arriving. And with the 80th annual Rally bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors, the impact locally and nationally may never be known.

“There’s a large group of people that are leaving today, and they want to get tested on their way out of town,” says Michael McVay from AmeriCup Medical.

And tucked away in a Chevrolet Liberty parking lot on the western edge of Sturgis, there’s a sign not of the Rally but of the pandemic. Here Rally-goers can buy a five-minute antibody test for $45.

“It really provides a lot of peace of mind for folks that are concerned about going back home to loved ones so they can be tested and find out if they’ve had some exposure,” says McVay.

McVay says the test has a 97 percent accuracy and have yet to have anyone test positive. He also says antibodies begin to show up a week after COVID exposure.

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