Leroy N. Soetoro
2020-09-22 23:09:31 UTC
Tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to gather in Lake
of the Ozarks in central Missouri for an annual Bikefest at a time when
the state is seeing a rise in coronavirus cases.
The five-day festival that attracts motorcycle riders from around the U.S.
began Wednesday and ends Sunday. Last year's Bikefest Lake of the Ozarks
drew about 125,000 people.
Lake Ozark Mayor Gerry Murawski told the Kansas City Star on Thursday that
he's not sure how many people will show up in light of the pandemic.
"This year, I dont know what to expect. Theres nothing thats the same,"
But this is our last event of the year and I keep thinking, Lets just
get through this, and then we can quite frankly go to sleep for a few
months, the mayor added. And hopefully by next year its gone. Probably
He said he hopes attendees will wear face coverings, but has doubts
because bikers typically don't wear masks. Its just thats the way they
Missouri lifted its coronavirus restrictions in June when the state had
just over 16,000 confirmed cases. In a Sept. 18 update, the state
Department of Health and Senior Services reported 1,795 new cases that
bring the total to 110,129.
There have been 1,780 deaths in the state as of Friday.
Bikefest has spurred concerns that it could lead to an increased spread of
These events tend to draw many people into crowded spaces. Its
especially worrisome if participants gather indoors at bars and
restaurants which have proven to be high-risk areas, said Steve Edwards,
chief executive of CoxHealth, a hospital system based in Springfield.
Edwards said the festival could lead to more coronavirus infections in
Missouri and other states where attendees have traveled from. It is
reckless," he said.
By Thursday, the second day of the festival, bikers were packed into bars
and restaurants in Lake Ozark with hundreds of riders parked outside,
according to the Kansas City Star. Only a handful of tourists were seen
wearing face masks.
I know I should be wearing a mask, but Im not too concerned about it,"
attendee Vance Scovel told the Kansas City Star.
Scovel said he and his wife traveled from their home in Cedar Rapids,
Iowa, to attend Bikefest. The couple said they also went to last month's
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota with no problems and are taking
I love it, he said of Bikefest. We heard it might be a couple hundred
thousand by the weekend.
The Sturgis rally, which ran from Aug. 7 to Aug. 16, drew more than
460,000 vehicles, the South Dakota Transportation Department said.
Coronavirus outbreaks linked to the rally have been reported in at least
eight states South and North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska,
Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Image: Minyvonne Burke
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