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Daytona Bike Week gets green light, but one doctor says it could be a COVID superspreader

While Bike Week takes place in Daytona Beach, people who go to it often will spend a day or two in St. Augustine, St. Johns County and Jacksonville.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla — This week, the Daytona Beach City Commission gave its stamp of approval for Bike Week, a mega motorcycle event that will place March 5 through the 14th.

However, one local Infectious Disease doctor worries it could be a COVID-19 superspreader event.

While Bike Week takes place in Daytona Beach, people who go to it often will spend a day or two in St. Augustine, St. Johns County and Jacksonville.

While it may be good for business, some in the medical profession worry it will spread the coronavirus.

The Master Plan for this year's Bike Week implements CDC recommendations.  

Daytona Bike Week organizer Janet Kersey said there will be "a longer distance between vendors and will likely have less vendors."

She said a new traffic pattern will create one-way streets, and businesses have agreed to 60 percent capacity.

"It gives more space and social distancing to everyone," Kersey said. 

Infectious Disease doctor Mohammed Reza has offices in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach. He is worried about the possible outcomes.

"My concern is this will become a superspreader event," Reza said. "Especially if we have this more contagious variant of the virus already in Florida. No matter how much we do, anytime people congregate and come together, this virus will spread."

The Sturgis Bike Rally, a large motorcycle event in South Dakota was considered a superspreader this past summer.

According to San Diego State University’s Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies, the Sturgis rally lead to 260,000 COVID cases across the country. State leaders dispute that.  

Kersey said Daytona Bike Week is different. "Bike Week is spread out in more urban areas whereas Sturgis is more of a single downtown event."

Local business owners in Daytona Beach and even in St. Augustine benefit from Bike Week’s multi-million dollar economic impact. Organizers say the 10- day event brings anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 people.

And this past year has been hard for local businesses.  

Kersey said, "So you have to balance the safety of the pandemic while at the same time, keeping people employed and fed."

Reza said, "I do understand businesses are struggling, but we have to watch out for the safety of our entire community."