Ron Keel has defended his band's participation in last year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The event, which reportedly drew 462,000 biker enthusiasts to South Dakota in August, was described by some as a superspreading event, responsible for more than 260,000 cases of COVID-19 — or 19% of the 1.4 million new COVID-19 cases from August 2 to September 2, 2020, claimed researchers from San Diego State University and an independent research institute.
"I've never heard any viable information that it was what they claimed was gonna be a superspreader event," Ron told Shaggy of the 94.9 & 104.5 The Pick radio station in Idaho Falls, Idaho earlier this week (hear audio below). "There were a quarter million people there. We did five headline shows, and it was business as usual, man. You're not gonna shut those bikers down, and you're not gonna keep 'em out. We're all gonna gather and express our freedom, our right to rock, our freedom to ride, live, love, laugh and enjoy every day on this planet while we still can. And that's what it's all about."
The KEEL frontman, who was a guest on the radio station to promote his upcoming concert at Golden Nugget in Pocatello, Idaho on Friday, February 26, added that he "didn't see much difference" between last year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and previous Stugis events. "The audiences were a little slimmer, and I get that — people were maybe afraid to come out," he said. "We still managed to film a live video — don't misunderstand me — which has now been released on YouTube worldwide. You can find that on my YouTube page. And we filmed that video live at Sturgis in front of what you can obviously see is a really good, engaged crowd. So, I'm very thankful for the opportunity. And I'm not stopping. If there's an opportunity to play, I'm gonna do that. I'm gonna get on the plane with my guitar and I'm gonna come to Idaho this weekend. I'm gonna rock Pocatello this Friday night."
South Dakota officials, including Gov. Kristi Noem, called the research from San Diego State University's Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies "fiction" and "grossly misleading." State Epidemiologist Joshua Clayton, PhD, said at a news briefing that the report numbers are ''a far cry" from reality. He said that 124 South Dakota residents who had attended the rally were diagnosed with COVID.
Last November, Keel defended Donald Trump against accusations that the former president's rhetoric was to blame for the divisiveness and unrest in the United States. The singer, who had previously tweeted in support of Trump's policies, took to the social media platform to comment on the fact that there has been more discord between Republicans and Democrats in our time than there has been in generations. He wrote: "And of course, like everything else, this is @realDonaldTrump 's fault. #BS Elections don't divide people. Beliefs don't divide people. WEAKNESS divides people."