Here’s a question that probably needs to be asked at this point: Could Yankton’s Riverboat Days last month be viewed as a COVID-19 super-spreader event?

It’s a tough question (in more ways than one) that merits at least a little thought since Yankton County’s COVID infection numbers have spiked in the three-plus weeks since the festival. On Riverboat Days weekend, the South Dakota Department of Health’s (DOH) online COVID portal showed the county with about 25 active cases; earlier this week, that number crossed the 100-case threshold. (It slipped down to 98 Thursday.) And since Riverboat Days, the county has seen six days with double-digit increases in positive tests.

When you throw in other factors — such as the huge crowds that flocked to the festival and the fact that there were probably only about five of us who wore masks during the celebration — wondering about the festival’s super-spreader potential in hindsight isn’t really out of line.

However, for numerous reasons, we’ll probably never know, and perhaps it doesn’t even matter quite as much as it once did.

For one thing, the latest COVID wave, fueled by the Delta variant, has hit everywhere across the nation and was bound to sweep through this region, Riverboat Days or no Riverboat Days.

Secondly, tracking cases doesn’t seem to be a primary mission of health officials anymore. It would be difficult for them to connect all the dots that intersected at Riverboat Days — or any other major events — with any cases that popped up afterwards, unless there was direct, irrefutable contact.

Third, Riverboat Days didn’t happen in a vacuum, or anything close to it. If you wonder about the spreading potential of the Yankton festival, then you also have to scrutinize Dakota Fest in Mitchell, the Sioux Empire Fair in Sioux Falls, the South Dakota State Fair in Huron, the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island, the various county fairs in the area, Wagner’s Labor Day celebration and so on. And you’d also have to take into account that the new school year started around the time of Riverboat Days, and some area schools are already having issues with COVID cases.

Fourth, Riverboat Days was largely (although not exclusively) an outdoor festival. While there were a lot of people on hand and a few individual events (such as the Jo Dee Messina concert) were jam-packed, the outdoor nature of the celebration was probably a plus.

Finally, one thing that Riverboat Days and other events like it this summer had going for them was the benefit of vaccines, which of course were not here last year when practically everything was scrapped. I would estimate that, for instance, the Riverboat Days crowds tend to skew slightly (but not greatly) older than, say, a baseball tournament or a concert, and it stands to reason that more of these people were probably vaccinated and also tend to take a few more precautions. (This behavioral pattern arguably shows up in the DOH case breakdown by age groups: Right now, South Dakota has had more COVID cases diagnosed in the 10-19 age group than the 60s, 70s or 80s/older groups.) So, the vaccines that some people are railing against so furiously have likely done more than anything else to make things like Riverboat Days, as well as summertime as we remember it, look a lot more like normal — or even happen at all.

Still, one can’t help but think about such things, especially given the latest COVID surge and the memories we all have of last year when we had fewer defenses at our disposal.

Unlike now.

At this point, whatever I say about vaccines, masking and other defense techniques probably won’t register with anyone. Most people have made up their minds one way or another on such things.  

However, if you DO want more evidence, look around. A degree of normality has returned, in large part, because of the vaccination issue. Meanwhile, a new surge also threatens us, according to CDC statistical patterns from across the country, because of the vaccination issue. You can draw your own conclusions from that.

One thing all this could mean is that so-called super-spreader events may be viewed somewhat differently now than, say, a year ago. Today, it may not be so much a matter of how many people are gathered, but rather how many of them are vaccinated, as well as masked, healthy and generally prepared. And that approach has been a game changer, at least so far — one that we can control. It’s really up to us.

Follow @kelly_hertz on Twitter.

(20) comments

VoiceforAll

With so many people gathering at events like this and sporting events like college and professional football games, and as Kelly points out at the Riverboat Days, almost all without masks, it looks like people have begun moving past the unconstitutional demands and ever changing mandates put on them by this administration and choosing their freedom and own choices over being told how to live their lives based on the scare tactics used by the democrats. I doubt all the people at Riverboat Days were republicans, surely I wouldn't think that a democrat would not attend an event like this without wearing a mask, would they since Joe and all his supporters are in such favor of always wearing them? If it was all republicans out at Riverboat Days, then per Kelly's own observation, there were very few democrats out supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs at Riverboat Days, meaning the democrats really don't care if these business stay open or close due to no one going to events like this. Thank goodness there are republicans out there willing to chose freedom and support businesses to help keep this shrinking economy under Joe's control from collapsing.

BigSky57062

Yup, VoiceforAll, yay for business!

Now if only so many unvaccinated people weren’t getting sick and dying and flooding our hospitals so people who have other needs have to be turned away.

Abe

That is not true. You are perpetuating the propaganda. Why would you want to insist on being part of the problem and not the solution. You need to research the facts.

Abe

Let me educate you, Big Sky...

Fraudci knew that Remdisivir kills people. Approx 50% of those who took it died from organ failure (2018, Africa)

So, please explain why Fraudci took the entire world supply of this killer drug and insisted that it would be the primary medicine for covid patients in America?

The people are not dying from covid, primarily. They are being poisoned intentionally! Think I'm joking?

Jabs will not do anything to treat or prevent covid. The scare is intentional to cause us to seek a vaccination. None of the current jabs are declared vaccines by their own admission. Read the labels!

Get with the program and heed the warnings of informed people around the world. If you truly want to see people survive this intentional genocide/depopulation, you'll need to be less biased and more objective.

Abe

Folks, just imagine taking orders from thieves, liars, pedophiles, murderers, etc. and believing you are morally superior to those who refuse to accept a chemical bioweapon. Sick, is it not?

Abe

The CDC and others in cahoots with Fauci's Fraud Fiesta are corrupt and complicit with all who want this "plandemic" to run its course. Theres never been an isolated virus for covid 19, that's why there's a brand new gene-altering, computer generated MRNA bioweapon getting pushed so hard on us. How many deaths from the jab before people awaken to this hoax?

I should not be surprised, though. Ever since John Dewey, the American public education system has been ardently causing us to become increasingly ignorant. Sadly, you who promote what is hardly a vaccine prove that the "dumbing down of America" is complete.

Abe

Not nearly like the one in NYC on Saturday. I'll bet you won't opine on the point of view that crowd was communicating. America, as stupid as most of us are, is slowly starting to awaken. Too bad the democrats had to stall so long, waiting for their next command from on high.

VoiceforAll

Wow, lots of silence on here from the supporters of mask wearing, where did you all go? So now lets look at a couple events that took place I am sure you all saw, the Met Gala and now the Emmy's, again, the elite now wearing masks, but the servants that are catering to all of them are, do any of you see a double standard? Anyone? Our kids have to be muzzled for 8 hours a day to attend school so they can learn and you have to wear one to get into a store, but politicians, Hollywood elite, democratic mayors, etc. etc. continue to go without masks at these large get togethers. These people stand in front of you and tell you that you have to be masked up, be vaccinated or you are a murderer, and they don't follow the same rules. Apparently the Covid virus knows who is rich and famous and who isn't, oh yeah, and who is an illegal immigrant as well, no vaccine mandate for them either. BigSky, absolutely yay for business, good luck trying to live without them, you won't, so just shut them down, who cares about them anyways, right? Maybe Kamala does, who if you remember is the Mexican Border Czar, after all, she had time for a coin toss at a football game Saturday while 14,000 and growing illegal immigrants were jammed under a bridge down in Texas. What a joke they are, all of them, the democrats and Hollywood elites, all cut from the same cloth. Your argument would hold more meaning if there was any kind of organized, firm message from this administration, there isn't, there hasn't been and there won't be, because they can't do it, and people are tired of hearing there threats, people are not listening, it is this administrations fault these hospitals are filling up, not the people getting sick, no one can believe anything they say anymore, so in a democrat's way of doing things, blaming everything on anyone else but themselves, this is all Joe's and Kamala's fault, no one else.

E pluribus

Where did we all go?

Well, what point is there to try reasoning with such unhinged conspiracy thinking from you folks who deny/ignore the unvaccinated people dying all around us?

Abe

Worldwide Press Conference tomorrow. I'd suggest you tune in and learn something. Or, remain in your ignorance.

Gimmy A. Breake

Mama once told me, some things you avoid.

No deep psychology here. No Sigmund Freud.

Life is good, she said, though sometimes it’s cruel.

So, my darling, don't waste it debating a fool.

Abe

It's not that we're fools, the unvaxxed said

It's just plainly simple, we're using our head

Perhaps you'll study the info we post

Instead of mocking until you are toast

VoiceforAll

E pluribus, the vaccinated are dying too, maybe the vaccine isn't working as Joe promised? Why should we mask our kids if the democrats and elites show day in and day out that they don't need to wear them, why do me and my kids have to? San Francisco's democratic mayor said over the weekend she has been vaccinated and the "fun police" need to stop worrying about what she does, FYI, she got caught partying with a BLM leader and others all without masks. No conspiracy theories in what I said before, they are facts, just because you don't want to hear what is actually going on you blow them off as conspiracies. You need to watch and read what is going on in this country, there is nothing good happening, and all under the control of Joe and Kamala, they are messing up this country and costing people their lives, and they are now working to alienate our allies all while praising the Taliban as being "professional and business like", Joe's words, not mine, as they murder people and beat women and children, they support the Taliban more than the do American citizens. Stop denying things are going bad, because they are, horribly bad, and no one can defend them or the decisions they are making about anything they touch, accept Jen Psaki who lies through her teeth every time she talks. Why believe them on Covid, they can't be trusted on anything else, it is a very, very sad reality that things have gotten this out of control and bad in 9 short months.

VoiceforAll

Gimme a break, the only fools are those listening to the the fools running this country, deny it all you want, Joe and Kamala are awful people and they are doing all they can to destroy this country, like you, it and them make no sense.

Mr. T

Voice, of course vaccinated people are dying. No vaccine is 100% effective - including all the vaccines that South Dakota currently mandates for its school children. (Without a peep from more than a few, lonely hardcore anti-vaxxers, I might add.)

For my medical decisions I don’t count on the words of politicians. Not when the medical statistics show that most of the coronavirus patients dying in our overwhelmed hospitals are the UNvaccinated.

This is the numerical evidence that you and Abe ignore. These bodycount numbers speak much louder than absolutely anything else you can say.

The medical stats say the body count of unvaccinated people shows they’re 10 times more likely to die than the vaccinated. So it’s not too hard to see how to play these odds. Even in the face of all the confusion and uncertainty. Or the hypocrisy of foolish politicians.

Fortunately, it seems likely that the Covid vaccine will be approved for all school kids in the not too distant future. Hopefully parents will be increasingly less likely to gamble the lives of their children as the Covid bodycount

continues to climb.

In any case, this will put the possibility of a school mandate for the Covid vaccine on the same par as the existing mandates for all childhood diseases.

This will make it harder to rationally draw a distinction between a Covid vaccine mandate and the existing mandates for all childhood diseases.

Jon Wick

Mr.T, there is a debate concerning the constitutionality of the federal government having the authority to mandate. SCOTUS states this ability is the responsibility of state and local governments. Using OSHA is a clever work around I must admit. But if the fed’s were confident they had the authority why the need for the work around?

As a business owner, how do you feel about the possibility of a business be forced to fire workers who refuse vaccination? What impact would it have on that business? Do you support this effort to strong arm business to accomplish government vaccination policy?

One final question of curiosity Mr. T. If Trump was the president implementing this vaccine mandate, would you and your progressive colleagues still be so supportive? Or would Trump being behind the decision change your mind?

Gimmy A. Breake

The “Bagdad Bobbsey Twins,” Abe and VoiceforAll

say things aren’t really so bad after all.

With death all around and a vaccine at hand,

instead “take dewormer” is the unhinged command.

“The vaccine is poison, just you wait,” it is said.

So many will die from this ignorance instead.

Yet so many vaccines are already mandated.

So why is THIS one reviled and so hated?

Do Trumplicans think that Biden gets blamed

if enough people die from a plague left untamed?

Abe

Because by CDC definition, a vaccine provides immunity. What you are promoting is not a vaccine. It is defined as a gene therapy operating system by the manufacturers.

But you'll never understand.

VoiceforAll

Let the unvaccinated die if that is their choice? You are vaccinated and you wear a mask, you are protected, right? No? If Joe says you need to get a booster shot to stop breakthrough cases, you better get one, but you will never, ever get a 100% vaccinated population, Covid is not going to go away, just like the flu, just like measles, it isn't going away, even with 100% vaccinated. With all the vaccinated, all the mask wearing, Covid cases are higher this year than last year, why is it still spreading so badly, more and more are vaccinated which means there is getting to be less and less vaccinated or are dead, but cases are higher? So with that information, the more that get vaccinated the higher the cases are going to be, weird. Are you going to live the rest of your lives getting booster shots and wearing masks? Why did Joe not require 100% of everyone in the U.S. get the shot, why did he make exceptions, why doesn't Kamala, the border czar, close the southern border, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants pouring into this country, no vaccine requirement for them, walking around spreading the virus, why don't they stop them? You don't get it, people have choices, at least for now, the administration has been all over the place with their message or lack of message, about this virus, certain people are exempt from vaccines, certain people don't have to wear masks because they are rich or famous or a democrat, mixed message after mixed message. Fauci flip flopping, Joe flip flopping, information being censored, people being told they can't go to stores, they can't send their kids to school, they can't go and hold the hand of their dying mother or father in a nursing home so they have to die alone because Joe said so. Sorry, people are done with this tyranny, once Kamala says she will close the southern border to stop illegal immigration and the spread of Covid from those people to help protect the health of the legal American citizens, then and only then will I begin to think they have the best interests of the U.S. in mind with all their mandates, they have chosen politics above all, as they always do, remember Afghanistan, and this is why people are refusing to get the shot and to wear a mask.

Gimmy A. Breake

Mr. Voice and old Abe believe alternative facts

of discredited charlatans and disproven quacks.

Their outraged insistence would be more compelling

if our anti-vax death toll didn’t keep on swelling.

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