Media Hoaxes: No, Sturgis Was Not A ‘Superspreader Event,” And No, It Did Not Cost ‘Public Health $12.2 Billion’
Gov. Kristi Noem: “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”
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Last month, I wrote about the media meltdown over Sturgis Bike Week. The pearl-clutching over a large outdoor gathering of pro-American, pro-freedom bikers was more than their little hearts could endure.
Bikers gathering by the hundreds of thousands, most of whom are most assuredly not on board with the leftist goal of destabilizing our great nation, was just a bridge too far for the hypocrites in the partisan activist media. After all, the only large outdoor gatherings currently permitted by our new self-appointed overlords are Marxist, anti-American riots, replete with looting, arson, vandalism, assault, and murder.
So it was with no surprise that I watched the leftstream media gobble up a fact-free article published on some obscure leftist German think tank’s website and shout it from the rooftops as if it were written by actual virologists—or by anyone remotely related to the study of pandemics or health care—and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The “report” in question falsely, demonstrably falsely, proclaims that “large crowds, coupled with minimal mask-wearing and social distancing by attendees” turned the rally into a “superspreader” infecting 260,000 people and costing “pubic health $12.2 billion.”
You’re already rolling your eyes and trying not to laugh, right?
But the Trump-deranged leftstream media leaped on this clearly ludicrous “study” as if it were in any way, even remotely, meaningful.
— The Hill (@thehill) September 8, 2020
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held in South Dakota last month may have caused 250,000 new coronavirus cases, study finds. https://t.co/p1BiGhoZY6
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 9, 2020
- The Miami Herald: “Sturgis biker rally adds 267,000 COVID cases and $12.2B in health costs, report says”
- Newsweek: “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Cost $12.2 Billion in Public Health Due to Coronavirus Spread, Economists Conclude”
- Fox News (yes, really): “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally linked to 20% of US coronavirus cases in August: researchers”
- The Washington Post: “‘Worst case scenarios’ at Sturgis rally could link event to 266,000 coronavirus cases, study says”
- Daily Mail: “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is responsible for 260,000 new cases of coronavirus and will cost $12.2 billion in health care to treat those whose infections can be tied back to the South Dakota event, new study claims”
- Boston Globe: “Sturgis biker rally fallout may have costly health consequences”
- Kaiser Health News (yes, really): “Sturgis Biker Rally Linked To 260,000 COVID cases”
This is “journalism” as performed in 2020, and it’s an embarrassment.
The problem? Pretty much everything.
First of all, we already have a rough idea of how many people were infected (70) and how many died (one so far) possibly as a result of Sturgis.
460,000+ went to Sturgis for up to 10 days.
Almost two weeks later, 70 infections are reported.
That's far LOWER than the background US rate.https://t.co/w7SYBsPINx
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) August 27, 2020
Secondly, it still, as of this writing anyway, matters where studies are published and by whom they are authored.
BTW: not that anyone needs to trash the idiotic Sturgis study any further – it has been weighed in the balance and found wanting – but it's worth noting no medical journal would touch it. It was posted on the website of the "Institute of Labor Economics."https://t.co/OIczMjHbSd
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) September 8, 2020
It is curious that such an earth-shattering study couldn’t find a more worthy publication in which to share its findings, no? Apparently, this German labor website isn’t even peer-reviewed . . . not that it would change anything since it’s a labor website, not one in any way related to health, epidemics, or anything credibly related to the “study” it published.
Do a little digging and you'll see how health officials as well as scientists are calling this pure bullshit. It's a white paper, not peer reviewed, authored by economists. It's not even a legit apples to apples comparison. https://t.co/sa0oVlAKdE
— John Comfort (@johnmcomfort) September 8, 2020
Thirdly, there’s the math. Even accepting, which most do not (more on this below), that Sturgis did somehow result in 260,000 new Wuhan coronavirus cases, how on earth does one conclude that this costs “public health” a whopping $12.2 billion?
Also worth noting that the $46k per covid case study they reference is also only on their website, and the methodology is suspect at best. (They estimate it costs 11k for an ASYMPTOMATIC case!)
— dnacarna (@dnacarna) September 9, 2020
Wait, what? I have no idea I have the WuFlu because I have no symptoms at all, but I still cost “public health” $11k without ever seeing a doctor, getting tested, or buying so much as a throat lozenge (with my own hard-earned money)? How does that work?
But that’s not the worst of the ridiculously faulty “report.”
The fourth, and to my mind, most ridiculous claim is based on methodology that a high school senior should be able to recognize as problematic.
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.
The researchers also assumed a $46,000 price tag for each person infected to calculate the $12.2 billion public health cost of the event—but this figure would only make sense if every person had a severe case requiring hospitalization.
The results of the IZA paper “do not align with what we know,” South Dakota epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said at a Tuesday news briefing.
So if someone from upstate New York state attended Sturgis, any new cases—including suspected asymptomatic cases, apparently—in upstate New York are counted as Sturgis-related? That is not scientific (nor any other kind of) research. That is pure fantasy.
It reminds me of the old canard intended to discourage faulty logic: crime rates spike during heatwaves, and people eat more ice cream during heatwaves; therefore, eating ice cream causes people to commit crimes.
The conclusions of authors Dhaval M. Dave, Andrew I. Friedson, Drew McNichols, and Joseph J. Sabia are unsupportable gibberish (which is probably why they couldn’t get a reputable—medical or even economic—publication to publish it).
Where the study jumps off the rails is linking all of the relative increase in virus cases in counties with attendees compared to those without rally participants. The modelers multiplied the percent increase in cases for counties with attendees by their pre-rally cumulative cases to get a total of 263,708 additional cases—266,796 including South Dakota’s increase.
But many “high inflow” counties like Los Angeles, Maricopa (Arizona), Clark (Nevada) and El Paso were experiencing flare-ups before the rally. These counties may have shared other characteristics like higher population density that contributed to their increases. There could be other “endogenous” variables—for instance, counties with more people who attended the motorcycle rally may also have had populations less observant of social distancing.
The study’s authors nonetheless assign each of these 266,796 Covid cases a public-health cost of $46,000—ergo $12.2 billion—though the vast majority of all virus cases are mild or moderate. Talk about a case study in statistical overreach—and double standards.
Apparently, attending Sturgis causes WuFlu cases to skyrocket, even if it demonstrably didn’t. Anyone shown by phone records to be in an area where WuFlu cases spike after Sturgis is deemed a result of Sturgis.
This ill-conceived “study” concluded that it doesn’t matter what else is going on in the area, such as antifa/BLM riots, state and local officials loosening lockdown measures, returns to school/work, people dying from motorcycle accidents who tested positive for WuFlu during autopsy (and were counted as WuFlu deaths, because of course), and etc. It’s all on Sturgis, they laughably claim.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is pushing back against this outlandish “report” and goes so far as to call it “fiction.”
“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,” said Gov. Noem in a press release Tuesday.”Predictably, some in the media breathlessly report on this nonpeer-reviewed model, built on incredibly faulty assumptions that do not reflect the actual facts and data here in South Dakota.”
The report gathered its results by using cellphone data from SafeGraph, Inc. It shoed [sic] “smartphone pings from nonresidents” and “foot traffic at restaurants and bars, retail establishments and entertainment venues, hotels and campgrounds each rose substantially” through Aug. 7 through 16. It says that the Rally is linked to an estimated 267,000 COVID-19 cases nationwide and says the overall health costs from the Rally are $12.2 billion.
“At one point, academic modeling also told us that South Dakota would have 10,000 COVID patients in the hospital at our peak. Today, we have less than 70. I look forward to good journalists, credible academics, and honest citizens repudiating this nonsense,” Gov. Noem said.
We have been covering Media Hoaxes. Here are our posts to date:
- Media Hoaxes: No, Trump Did Not Ignore Daily Intel Briefings Regarding Wuhan Coronavirus
- Media Hoaxes: No, There Has Not Been A Spike In Calls To Poison Control Because Of Trump’s Recent Comments
- Media Hoaxes: No, Trump does not owe $200 million to Bank of China (UPDATE: Politico issues statement noting other reporting errors)
- Media Hoaxes: No, Trump Did Not Send 17 Tons of Public U.S. Coronavirus Supplies to China
- Media Hoaxes: No, Trump Did Not Call Coronavirus a Hoax, and No, Fauci Was Not “Muzzled”
- Media Hoaxes: No, Trump did not “disband” WH pandemic office, cut CDC work from “49 to 10” countries, or refuse WHO “testing kits”
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