– Advertisement – “I don’t understand why he went to Sturgis and didn’t take Covid seriously,” said Jon Esmay, a friend who had not spoken with Mr. Aguirre in a few months. “Mostly I’m just angry that someone who talked to or saw him more often didn’t get him to the ER. I’m angry that I didn’t talk to him more often.”Dustin Van Balen, who considered Mr. Aguirre to be like an adopted brother, said he had been trying to piece together a timeline using Mr. Aguirre’s phone. But he said they might never have answers.“Not knowing is the hardest part,” he said.Mark Walker reported from Sturgis, and Jack Healy from Denver. After the crowds streamed home like some huge exhalation, coronavirus cases tied to the rally began popping up as far away as New Hampshire. Infection numbers climbed in the Dakotas and in the neighboring states of Wyoming and Nebraska, where thousands of residents had returned from Sturgis.In all, cases spread to more than 20 states and at least 300 people — including revelers’ families and co-workers who never set foot in South Dakota, according to state health officials. Twin sisters who had worked at a bike-washing stand in Sturgis tested positive. So did a local paramedic. And a motorcycle mechanic’s family in Rapid City. “I said back in March, do you want me to build a wall around Sturgis or a wall around South Dakota, because that is the only way we could have stopped them,” Mayor Mark Carstensen of Sturgis said.The backlash came quickly. After the rally concluded, city officials were flooded with death threats day and night by phone, email and mail. Some called the rally a declaration of freedom and went home with T-shirts declaring, “Screw Covid I Went to Sturgis.” But others in deeply conservative South Dakota now say it recklessly helped seed a new wave of cases raging out of control in the state.Family members who stayed away are angry at relatives who attended and brought the virus home. Sturgis council members who approved the rally have been bombarded with death threats. And health experts and politicians are still fighting over how many cases Sturgis may have caused across the country. STURGIS, S.D. — Albert Aguirre was amped as he and a buddy skimmed across the South Dakota plains, heading to join 460,000 bikers for a motorcycle rally shaping up to be a Woodstock of unmasked, uninhibited coronavirus defiance.“Sit tight Sturgis,” Mr. Aguirre, 40, posted on Facebook on Aug. 7 as he snapped a photo of the sun sifting through the clouds. “We’re almost there!”- Advertisement – The illnesses cut rifts among friends and families. In the rural panhandle of western Nebraska, Heather Edwards watched with frustration after a cousin who had worked at the rally tested positive and then shrugged off the seriousness because she had a mild case. A woman in Sioux Falls, S.D., seethed after her sister returned home from Sturgis, went to a wedding with a pasta buffet and tested positive the next day.Heidi Morgan, a conservative Republican who lives in the Black Hills, said some friends from Nebraska who attended Sturgis got sick after returning home. They refused to get tested out of a belief that the rally’s opponents wanted to use higher infection numbers as a political weapon.“There’s that feeling of, ‘We’re not going to add to the numbers,’” said Ms. Morgan, who said her family had taken the pandemic seriously, guided by their Baptist faith in putting others’ welfare first. “I’m trying to convince them that’s not true.”‘Not Knowing Is the Hardest Part’Mr. Aguirre was found dead at home on Sept. 10. The officers who moved his body wore gowns and protective gear because of the coronavirus risk, according to Chief Matt Betzen of the Vermillion Police Department. A posthumous test for the virus came back positive, according to the county coroner. In Rapid City, Holly Sortland had feared the virus would find her family, especially her 15-year-old son who has a heart defect. Her husband was a motorcycle mechanic in Sturgis, and though he wore a mask and tried to stay away from the rally crowds, a co-worker had been going maskless to the bars. Five people at his bike shop tested positive.“We kind of knew what was going to happen,” Ms. Sortland said. “I’ve never seen him so sick.”By mid-August, Ms. Sortland said, her husband was running a 101-degree fever and shed about 10 pounds. When she got flowers for her birthday, she realized that she could not smell them — a symptom that she, too, had Covid-19. A positive coronavirus test confirmed it. A contact tracer with the South Dakota Department of Health called the family to ask where her husband worked, but he worried about getting into trouble with his boss given the stigma that swirls around the virus, Ms. Sortland said. When she talked with the tracer, she said, she was not asked about her family contacts or where she had shopped.To date, the Health Department has reported 125 coronavirus cases among state residents who attended the rally. Derrick Haskins, a department spokesman, said the agency only conducts contact tracing on South Dakota residents.The Minnesota Department of Health in September connected 74 cases to the rally — 51 people who attended and 23 others who came into contact with them later. A man in his 60s who attended the rally contracted the virus and died. He is the only rallygoer whose death has been attributed to the coronavirus.“It is very challenging to trace the infections that attendees may have spread after they returned from Sturgis,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease epidemiology at the Minnesota Department of Health. “We were able to link several infections at a Minnesota wedding to someone who had gone to Sturgis but we were not able to definitively state there was a direct link. The web just becomes too complicated.” Health officials said a lack of contact tracing and the sheer scale of the event have made it impossible to know how many people were infected directly or indirectly because of Sturgis.“We don’t know if we’ll ever know the full extent,” said Dr. Benjamin C. Aaker, president of the South Dakota State Medical Association. “These people go home and get sick with coronavirus. They don’t have any way of knowing whether they picked it up at the rally or back in California.”Mr. Aguirre’s friends said they would likely never know whether he got sick at Sturgis, at a bar or restaurant in his hometown as college students returned, or somewhere else altogether.But friends said that by early September, Mr. Aguirre — a big guy and fiercely loyal friend who loved cooking and the Wu-Tang Clan — had been sick for more than a week and was struggling to breathe and eat. He called a local clinic but worried he could not afford to go to a hospital because he did not have insurance, according to friends and the chief of the Vermillion Police Department. In response, the city scrubbed its website of all personal contact information and replaced it with a generic phone line. The death threats ramped up another notch after a study suggested the event resulted in an estimated 250,000 coronavirus infections across the country.Mike Bachand, a City Council member, was among those who received death threats for his vote to host the event. The messages continue to come in, he said.Rod Woodruff, owner of the Buffalo Chip, which is outside the city limits of Sturgis and is used as a campground by motorcyclists during the rally, said he could not rationally see how the event could end up being a superspreader event and was skeptical of some of the cases being linked back to the event. Mr. Woodruff said he did not know of anyone who contracted the virus at the campgrounds. Democrats and some conservatives in South Dakota say the rally turned their state into a petri dish. They say Sturgis and other mass gatherings like President Trump’s Fourth of July rally, the state fair and an early-September Mustang car rally in Sturgis helped send the state’s infection rate soaring to one of the highest in the nation. The state is averaging about 1,100 cases a day, compared with fewer than 100 in much of August and September.But other conservatives accuse the news media and Democrats of inflating case counts and exaggerating the rally’s toll to smear its bikers. They said the number of infections was negligible compared with the thousands who attended, and pointed out that many rallygoers spent the week outdoors, camping and zooming through Spearfish Canyon and the Badlands.‘I’ve Never Seen Him So Sick’Back home, quietly, people were getting sick. And health departments in different states were struggling to trace where they had gotten sick or who else they might have infected on long road trips that spanned hundreds of miles. A month later, back home in the college town of Vermillion, S.D., Mr. Aguirre was so sick he could barely take a shower. He had not been tested but told friends that it had to be Covid-19.Infectious-disease experts had warned about the dangers of cramming thousands of revelers into the Black Hills of South Dakota at the height of a pandemic. But it was the 80th anniversary of the annual Sturgis rally, and bikers were coming no matter what. South Dakota’s Republican governor, a vocal opponent of lockdowns, gave her blessing, local leaders set aside their misgivings, and thousands of people from every state in the nation rolled down Sturgis’s Main Street.- Advertisement – In the aftermath, hundreds of people have gotten sick and Sturgis has become a rumbling symbol of America’s bitter divisions over the coronavirus, even now, as cases continue to surge, surpassing more than 121,000 daily infections on Thursday, and the nation’s death toll crosses 235,000. South Dakota’s Health Department has not connected any deaths to the rally, and Mr. Aguirre’s friends said they have been struggling to get answers or information about how and where he got sick, and wondering whether they could have helped. In North Dakota, the Health Department traced 30 cases back to the event, said Nicole Peske, a spokeswoman for the agency. That number, she added, does not include any secondary coronavirus cases that may have resulted if someone contracted the virus from someone who was at the rally.Ms. Peske said the agency was still investigating the cases linked to the event. “Hanging in there?” a friend, Dan Herrera, texted Mr. Aguirre on Sept. 5.“About to get in the shower and see how much energy that uses,” Mr. Aguirre replied.“Good luck.”Three days later, Mr. Herrera texted Mr. Aguirre to check in.This time, there was no answer.‘Do You Want Me to Build a Wall Around Sturgis?’Like every year, banners strung across Main Street proclaimed, “Welcome Harley Riders.” Downtown was blocked off for motorcycle parking. And despite rising case counts and growing criticism, Gov. Kristi Noem told Fox News in August that the state was handling the virus and glad to host the rally. “We hope people come,” she said.But behind the scenes, many in the 7,000-person city of Sturgis were on edge.Three City Council members wanted to call it off, but they changed their votes at the last minute after several large concert venues, including the Buffalo Chip campground and Rushmore Photo and Gifts, sent letters threatening legal action against the city. Sixty percent of residents who answered a city-sponsored survey wanted to postpone the rally, but city officials said they were boxed in. – Advertisement –
Published on April 10, 2013 at 1:10 am Contact Debbie: email@example.com | @debbietruong Nearly a year ago, Syracuse stood at the height of program history, setting records en route to the NCAA regionals, where it eventually fell to Arizona State.A little more than midway through this season, and about a month from the Big East tournament, SU is far from those heights. This season, it’s a young team struggling to find footing in Big East play after falling to powerhouse DePaul by at least nine runs in each of last weekend’s three games.Heading into Wednesday’s 3:30 p.m. doubleheader against Cornell (14-16, 4-4 Ivy) at Skytop Softball Stadium, Syracuse remains hopeful. Despite the disappointing start to conference play, which included an 11-0 blowout loss on Saturday, the Orange (13-20, 1-5 Big East) insists team morale remains high.“As weird as it sounds, I think we have better team morale this year than in the past,” Syracuse captain Veronica Grant said. “We all know the situation we’re in, the understanding of it and where we want to be and where we want to go is all the same. It’s just struggling to get there.”Grant likened this team to the one from her freshman season, when it would exit some weekends certain of its identity and others far less so. That team closed the 2010 season 32-26. Transitioning practice out of Manley Field House to the outdoor field has provided an additional lift to the team’s spirits, Grant said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor players who have witnessed the pinnacle of Syracuse softball, like Grant and senior shortstop Morgan Nandin, who played roles in the Orange’s deep trip into tournament play, the losses this season can be frustrating.“It’s never fun to lose,” Nandin said. “Coming off a record-setting season last year and going through the slump right now, it’s just a completely different team. We’ll get past it.”Tuesday’s outdoor practice, in which Nandin fielded at least 150 ground balls, was light, but focused. Gauging the team’s spirit and atmosphere of the practice, she’s confident the team can reverse course and make waves late in the season.“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people when it comes to Big East play,” Nandin said. “I think we’ll do something really special.”SU head coach Leigh Ross can’t attribute the mid-season slump to one factor, but said Syracuse faced difficult competition in its first two conference opponents, Louisville and DePaul.The team’s also suffered from injuries to pitcher Lindsay Taylor, who logged long innings on the mound earlier this season, and offensive powerhouse Julie Wambold, who bruised her wrist from a wayward pitch Saturday.“You’re going to have the ups and downs in the season. Once you understand that, it’s your job is to come here every day and work hard and get through it,” Ross said. “You’re going to get through the ups and downs.”For Grant, the key heading into Wednesday’s game and the final stretch of conference play lies in the team’s ability to put the losses behind them and forge on.“Try and forget what just happened to the effect of moving forward,” Grant said. “Don’t completely forget about it, remember how it feels, but just keep going.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
Few members of the bullpen, Treinen included, have met the standard they established last campaign. The A’s have already lost six games they led after seven innings this year, up from just one last season. They have three high-usage relievers with ERAs over 4.00: Treinen, Trivino and Joakim Soria.Their lack of deadline trade activity for bullpen help, then, was somewhat surprising. Last week, they acquired left-hander Jake Diekman, but on Wednesday they were unable to secure another deal for a late-inning option. They did, however, add starter Tanner Roark from the Reds.”We had further conversation about bullpen pieces (before the deadline),” general manager David Forst said. “Just didn’t work out.”MORE: Here’s how to watch ‘ChangeUp,’ an MLB whiparound show, free on DAZNThe past couple of weeks have bared Oakland’s potential vulnerability amid a tight American League wild-card race. Even Liam Hendriks, its most counted-on reliever, has blown three saves in his past four appearances.A’s record last year when tied after seven: 16-8.This year: 8-6.— Dan Bernstein (@dan_bernstein_) July 31, 2019In-house reinforcements should be coming: Top prospect A.J. Puk and right-hander Jharel Cotton are among those expected to join the bullpen soon. Diekman brings prolific strikeout numbers to the team. Plus, acquiring Roark from the Reds and starter Homer Bailey from the Royals may decrease the reliance on relievers. Left-hander Sean Manea may return from injury to join the rotation this month, as well.The A’s have expressed confidence that their recent adjustments are enough. Designated hitter Khris Davis said Sunday that “we’re going to the playoffs this year” and first baseman Matt Olson said Tuesday that Davis’ declaration reflected the entire clubhouse’s thinking.But Oakland’s limited July additions will likely make improvements by Treinen, Trivino and Soria even more vital to the A’s wild-card hopes.Trivino and Soria are still trending the wrong way. Trivino posted a 5.00 in July and Soria wasn’t much better at 4.76. Treinen, however, is beginning to regain Melvin’s trust behind six straight outings without an earned run allowed.Last Thursday, while on the verge of allowing a big inning after giving up a single and walk to the Rangers, Treinen regrouped with a strikeout and popout. Such a mid-inning recovery has been rare this year.”Couldn’t find the strike zone for a little bit, but then got into his rhythm,” Melvin said. “His velo picked up, his movement picked up. So we’ve seen some spurts where he’s throwing the ball really well, and hopefully he’ll continue getting better.” Treinen getting anywhere near his 0.78 ERA from 2018 would obviously be a huge gain for Oakland, as would upticks from his fellow relievers.Whether the combination of internal improvements and outside additions makes the bullpen elite again will be one of the defining questions of the coming months. Hours after the deadline, at least, the organization was optimistic.“We’re very happy with all of our acquisitions from the past couple of weeks,” Forst said. “It was kind of what we hoped to accomplish here.” OAKLAND, Calif. — The A’s bullpen held up well last season when manager Bob Melvin pushed its depth and stamina, but this year, the team’s relievers have repeatedly floundered when asked to preserve leads.Oakland built its 2019 roster around the expectation that the group, led by closer Blake Treinen and setup man Lou Trivino, would again be a strength. It limited investment in starting pitching, instead banking on its relievers to come in as early as the fifth inning and shut down opponents the rest of the way. The gamble has not yielded anticipated results.
VAN METER, Iowa (AP) – Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Friday she would override local school districts and require students to spend at least half of their education time in classrooms despite concerns the move could endanger children and teachers as the number of coronavirus cases increase in the state.Reynolds’ decision will invalidate plans implemented by some districts including Des Moines, the state’s largest school system, to limit in-person classes to one day a week for most students with online learning on other days. The governor’s actions are in line with the fervent recommendations of President Donald Trump, who has said it’s essential students return to classrooms despite surging numbers of virus cases in much of the country.“One of the most important milestones in our recovery effort is getting Iowa students back to school,”Reynolds said at a news conference. “And while we all know this school year will be different than ever before, its critical that we prioritize bringing Iowa’s children back to the classroom safely and responsibly.”Reynolds said districts could seek waivers from the 50% requirement to the state Education Department, which would consider making exceptions if there are surging local numbers of virus cases. There will be no change in the Education Department’s recommendation that districts not require that students and teachers wear masks in school, Reynolds said.The governor issued her order a little more than a month before schools are expected to resume and amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases. In the last 24 hours, Iowa had 879 new confirmed coronavirus cases and five more deaths, according to state statistics reported Friday.