How the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have spread coronavirus across the Upper Midwest – Brittany Shammas, Lena H. Sun (The Washington Post) / Oct 18 2020
It had been a long ride back from Sturgis, S.D., so when he first felt an ache at the back of his throat, Kenny Cervantes figured he was just tired. He’d traveled the 400-some miles on his Harley, rumbling through wide-open farm and prairie land on his way home to Riverdale, Neb., where his girlfriend was waiting.
© Misty Prochaska/For The Washington Post Angie Balcom and Kenny Cervantes outside their home in Riverdale, Neb., last month. Cervantes feels certain he got the coronavirus from his trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. (Misty Prochaska for The Washington Post)
A lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, the 50-year-old construction worker and father of five had been determined to go to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a holy grail for bikers. Even when his girlfriend, Angie Balcom, decided to stay back because she was worried about being around so many people during a pandemic, Cervantes was adamant about going.
“I don’t think there was nothing that was going to stop me,” he said.
Back home, Cervantes took Tylenol for his throat and went to bed early. But he woke up the next morning coughing so hard he struggled to catch his breath. Over the next few days, the pain in his chest made him fear that his heart might stop, and a test later confirmed he had the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease covid-19. He was admitted to the hospital 11 days later, on Aug. 27. Soon, his girlfriend and his sister were sick, and Cervantes was going over everything he did and every place he visited in Sturgis, wondering where the virus had found him.