Bike Nights, Giant Gatherings Proceed In Council Bluffs Regardless of Pushback
It was simple to overlook Pottawattamie County’s disproportionately excessive COVID-19 charges as about 1,500 largely mask-less motorcyclists in July danced and drank throughout 4 closed-off downtown Council Bluffs blocks on the first ‘Bikes on the 100 Block’ occasion of the summer time.
The occasion occurred after its organizers—a number of native bars and an Omaha-based Harley Davidson seller, amongst others—obtained a allow from the Council Bluffs Metropolis Council regardless of pleas from involved county residents for its cancellation.
The organizers prevailed once more in August—this time attracting over 2,000 motorcyclists, together with numerous Sturgis attendees on the back-end of their experience. Two days later, hundreds extra bikers gathered for a poker run in honor of a former Pottawattamie County Deputy, concluding in one other blocks-wide gathering in downtown Council Bluffs.
“The big numbers of people who find themselves gathered collectively, clearly unmasked, shifting out and in of closed services … it was our personal little mini-Sturgis right here,” stated Glenn Hurst, doctor within the county.
Pottawattamie County has recorded 1,635 positive coronavirus circumstances as of Tuesday afternoon, whereas a lot of the county’s smaller neighbors’ charges don’t exceed 200. The county has a 9.1% positivity score over the previous two weeks.
August was the final bike night time sponsored by the 100 Block this yr, however numerous occasions are slated this fall in Council Bluffs, together with movie nights and music bingo within the upcoming few weeks.
It’s nearly like our group is doing every thing potential to have our colleges shutdown earlier than they even attempt to open…
Vice President of the Western Iowa Labor Federation Jeff Shudak, together with Hurst and different county residents, have known as for an finish to those occasions— expressing concern over native well being and inconsistent messaging from management as giant gatherings persist.
After the primary bike occasion in July, Shudak started lobbying Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh and numerous Metropolis Councilmembers for the gatherings’ cancellation.
“All through the entire month of August, I reached out to 3 councilmembers and the mayor a number of occasions to please not do that,” Shudak stated. “We have been preparing to return to high school, it’s loopy that they might enable this to occur.”
Councilmember Melissa Head replied to Shudak’s efforts towards the gathering by noting its possible continuation.
“As of now, now we have no plans to discontinue. If one thing modifications with the numbers we in all probability would however proper now, since its outdoors, it’s nonetheless a go,” she stated earlier than August’s occasion.
One other councilmember, Roger Sandau, voiced his help for the gatherings over social media when he responded to considered one of Shudak’s Fb posts that includes movies of the occasions.
“None of those folks within the movies are pressured to be there. If this was a rally to help unions would you be there?” he stated to Shudak over social media. “It might be your option to go or to not simply as its everybody’s particular person alternative.”
Shudak stated Mayor Walsh was barely extra sympathetic to his considerations and has regularly promised to curb the big gatherings. However they proceed.
“I known as the mayor after the final [bike night]. He stated he was sorry and that was the tip of it. And no shit, on Saturday, that they had a poker run for a cop right here that died and so they shut the road down once more,” stated Shudak.
Fran Parr, a candidate for Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors, stated she appreciated Walsh’s try at advocating for COVID-19 security however has been sad with the continued disregard for security throughout occasions like bike night time.
“It’s very disappointing. Usually, I like our Mayor, he’s inspired folks to put on masks, however then to have a motorbike night time with folks partying…” stated Fran Parr. “It’s been a extremely blended message.”
Masks usually are not at present mandated in Council Bluffs, which has attracted many party-seekers from throughout the river in Nebraska. Locations like Omaha have taken extra a lot stronger measures towards the virus, together with facial overlaying necessities and cancellations of large events, main numerous their residents to return over to Pottawattamie County for extra lax leisure.
“My expertise with the Pottawattamie County County Well being Division has been considered one of disappointment of their response, of their willingness to gradual the unfold of this situation,” stated Hurst. “They haven’t made any vital public efforts to restrict the unfold of this situation. [The city council members] don’t have any respect for the hazard of this virus.”
by Isabella Murray
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