Sturgis looks to do mass COVID-19 testing

Courtesy photo

STURGIS — The city of Sturgis is looking to contract with Monument Health to conduct up to 1,300 COVID-19 tests following this year’s 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

An item on the Sturgis City Council agenda tonight outlines the plan and seeks approval to spend $195,000 from the city’s general fund to pay for it.

“We’re still working through the details, but it shows the council’s priority in trying to protect residents, especially those who have to work the Rally,” Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said.

Here is how the tests would be divided:

• 150 city employees (mandatory)

• 400 Sturgis residents who work frontline jobs (such as restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores)

• 200 employees of other entities (such as the county and school district) who have requested testing

• 550 general residents of Sturgis

Ainslie said the city will contact business owners to let them know they should request vouchers for the testing of their employees.

“It will be on first-come, first-served basis,” he said. “Should the council approve this plan, we will begin accepting voucher requests in about a week and a half.”

The testing would be done as a drive-through staged in a large parking lot, such as the Sturgis Community Center, in the week following the Rally.

“We would like it to be later in the week so that the incubation would have gone on as long as possible,” Ainslie said. “We ideally would like to have very few of the tests come back after the weekend because if someone is positive we don’t want them to go days and then a weekend and then another day without knowing.”

These tests would be able to identify asymptomatic patients who might inadvertently spread the virus, he said.

 “They should be asymptomatic because if you do have symptoms then you can be tested following Monument Health’s protocols. This proposal does not change or supplement the system that is currently in place. Instead, this proposal is meant to identify asymptomatic residents following the event so that they can self-isolate to avoid inadvertent spread,” he said.

The state has reported, following mass testing of nursing home patients and staff, that a little more than 10% of the state’s positive tests have come from people who were asymptomatic to COVID-19.

Dr. Joshua Clayton, South Dakota state epidemiologist, said the state is trying to maintain or exceed testing 5% of the total population of the state each month.

“I’m happy to report that for the month of June we have exceeded that testing level,” Clayton said. “So we have in fact exceeded it by testing over 44,000 individuals we have set as a goal for ourselves.”

He said more than 48,000 tests were conducted in June.

The testing done in Sturgis will not be done by the state, but Ainslie said the city had been in contact with the South Dakota Department of Health in planning the post-Rally testing.

Ainslie did say the testing would be a COVID- 19 related expense and should be reimbursed through the city’s allocation of the CARES Act funding. South Dakota received $1.25 billion in CARES funding from the federal government of which $200 million will be reimbursed to cities and counties throughout the state through the Local Government COVID Recovery Fund.

The city of Sturgis is expected to get more than $1.5 million from the COVID Recovery Fund. That amount is based on Census data.

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(1) comment

The Great One

spitballing here...............what if the influx of bikers causes a huge spike in COVID cases that adversely affects the local residents (vulnerable). Who pays for their medical costs after the tests are completed, and if they are in need of additional medical help?

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