Public health concerns; what are those?

As both 2020 and the ongoing global pandemic have steamrolled on, different motorcycle rallies around the country continue to take different approaches. After first delaying the 2020 event, Americade Rally organizers canceled it entirely in July.  

Then came Sturgis, where at least 290 confirmed COVID cases occurred. Following initial Sturgis observations—but prior to that number being released—New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu issued a mask mandate in time for Laconia Motorcycle Week 2020. 

Now it’s October, which is the traditional time that Biketoberfest usually takes place in Daytona Beach. The event is still going on in 2020, despite current public health concerns—but it’s not taking place in Daytona Beach. Instead, it’s taking place in Ormond Beach, which is about 6 miles north.  

Public health experts and Daytona Beach city commissioners made the decision against approving the usual permits for the event as of September. "COVID-19 is real," Daytona Beach city commissioner Paula Reed told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "I don't think we can control this. I can name at least five people I know who have passed of it." City commissioner Ruth Trager added, “You can recover from economics. You can't recover from death.” 

Ormond Beach, meanwhile, eagerly stepped up to host the event for 2020. So far, plans for parties at various venues are still on, along with DJs, and some live music—but no big bands. Other large crowd draws including mud and coleslaw wrestling are also off for 2020, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Meanwhile, public health experts and epidemiologists are no doubt shaking their heads, as they have been for months, and will likely continue to do for the foreseeable future.  

At the time of writing, Johns Hopkins lists a total of 218,266 COVID-19 deaths across the U.S. Folks, that is nearly a quarter of a million people dead. While many people suffer “minor symptoms,” official recordings of “minor symptoms” are frustratingly vague. They mostly amount to any combination of things that didn’t result in hospitalization—and if you just stop to think for a moment, I’m sure you know plenty of people in your life who have been very ill and yet not gone to the hospital. Not going to the hospital does not necessarily equal healthy and well. 

Also, death isn’t the only potential negative outcome from contracting this disease. If you ask me, the fate of COVID long-haulers who have lingering symptoms that may permanently change their lives forever sounds even worse.  

Quoting Dr. Anthony Karmaroff, who is editor in chief of the Harvard Health Letter, “Published studies and surveys conducted by patient groups indicate that 50 to 80 percent of patients continue to have bothersome symptoms three months after the onset of COVID-19—even after tests no longer detect virus in their body.” Links to both studies cited are located in his piece on the subject if you want to read them for yourself. 

As of October 16, 2020, the Florida Department of Health reported a total COVID death toll so far of 15,830 Florida residents. An additional 200 deaths of out-of-state visitors that were attributed to COVID have also occurred within the state since the pandemic began. In 2020, Biketoberfest runs from October 15 through 18.

Sources: The Daytona Beach News-JournalOrlando SentinelJohns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center