In May, Gov. Kristi Noem speaks during a news conference at the State Capitol in Pierre. Noem disputes a report that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally led to $12.2 billion in health care costs and 260,000 COVID-19 cases.

Gov. Kristi Noem disputes a report, which alleges the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally created $12.2 billion worth of public health care costs and more than 260,000 COVID-19 cases throughout the nation.

“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,” Noem stated Tuesday afternoon, adding the study relied in what she calls “faulty assumptions.”

The report is from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, which calls itself “an independent economic research institute that conducts research in labor economics and offers evidence-based policy advice on labor market issues.” The report states that is “initiated” by the Deutsche Post Foundation. Deutsche Post DHL is Germany’s largest employer.

Authors of the study are Dhaval Dave of Bentley University, Andrew I. Friedson of the University of Colorado Denver, Drew McNichols of the University of San Diego-California and San Diego State University, Joseph J. Sabia of San Diego State University.

“We conclude that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally generated public health costs of approximately $12.2 billion,” the researchers state.

The report adds: “South Dakota was one of eight states to never issue a statewide shelter-in-place order or a safer-at-home order. A recent assessment found South Dakota to have the least restrictive COVID-19 policy environment when assessing:

Mask wearing mandates (none);

Travel restrictions (none);

Large gathering restrictions (none);

Statewide school restarts (district-level decisions);

Reopening of bars and restaurants (full indoor-dining permitted);

Work-from-home requirements (none); and

Temperature screenings (not required).”

Noem, however, said out-of-state academics continue to be wrong about South Dakota, adding she looks forward to “honest citizens repudiating this nonsense.”

“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,” Noem said Tuesday.

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