They're the hub of many Sturgis activities and potential contagion.
It's not just Nebraska anymore. In addition to their seven confirmed cases, Minnesota health officials have now confirmed at least 14 coronavirus infections in people who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, one of whom worked "in a temporary bar situation."
That's quite disturbing. With all the alcohol consumption that takes place at Sturgis, someone who serves alcohol comes into contact with more people than anyone else I can think of. It's bad enough when a bar patron has it, as South Dakota State Health officials previously confirmed at the One-Eyed Jack’s Saloon.
Even an infected tattoo artist is disturbing, such as the case of an Asylum Tattoo Sturgis employee. The nature of their work, however, means they don't come into contact with nearly as many customers as a bartender. Even a simple tattoo takes a significant amount of time to do properly, which limits the number of people that artists can provide their services to. Plus, they already use sterilization procedures on the skin and their equipment. Of course, if one or both parties aren't wearing masks, which few people did during the rally, the infection can still spread through the air. You can't get a tattoo with the artist six feet away.
Meanwhile, a bartender can take an order, serve up a drink, and get paid in a matter of minutes, or even under a minute for a simple ice-cold beer. Even if masks are worn (which they usually weren't at Sturgis), that bartender is handling every drink, every credit card, and all of the cash that changes hands. By simply doing their job, they are at extremely high risk of catching an infection, then passing it on to customers, co-workers, and whoever else without even knowing.
In no way do I blame the bartenders themselves. They're just trying to make a living. Last year, while enjoying a few drinks myself, I met several bartenders who travel from far away to Sturgis every year to work. Particularly if you're female and attractive, which they were, you could make quite a windfall of cash there. I understand the temptation, as well as the need in some cases.
It's still quite soon after Sturgis to know just how far the coronavirus will spread as a direct result of it. It's only a few cases to start, which doesn't sound like much. It's hard to remember back to the beginning of the year, but only a few cases is how this all started back then.