After weeks of speculation about whether Black Lives Matter protests in all states would lead to an increase in coronavirus infections, a study using data from the country’s largest cities found “no evidence” that the protests caused a increase in the number of new COVIDs -19 cases.
in a paper Published by the National Office of Economic Research (NBER), several authors analyze the effects that the main Black Lives Matter protests had on the populations of the city and discovered that the number of new cases was compensated by individuals who chose not to march and chose for continuing social distancing.
The study was conducted looking at 315 major cities in the United States; The protests took place in 281 of them, and did not occur in the other 34. The protests were also differentiated by the duration of the protests and by whether violent activities occurred at that time.
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“We found no evidence that urban protests rekindled the growth of the COVID-19 case for more than two and a half weeks after the start of the protest,” the researchers write. “We conclude that predictions of the overall negative public health consequences of the Black Lives Matter protests were too narrowly conceived.”
Using smartphone data reported anonymously by Safe Graph, investigators were able to analyze the movement of 45 million people during the protests. Confirmed case data was obtained from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). USA
These data are intended to observe how protesters may have practiced social distancing or how closely they were in contact with other people. The social distancing analysis lasted 30 days before and after the protests to assess the growth of the case.
The analyzes reveal some key findings, namely that the researchers found no evidence that the behaviors of staying at home were different in counties that had protests and counties that did not have protests.
Investigators also saw an increase in tendencies to stay home in counties closest to the city, or where the protests were based. After the protests, social distancing behavior increased. Along with the relatively linear growth of coronavirus cases, the results suggest that “any direct decrease in social distancing among the subset of the population participating in the protests is more than compensated by the increase in social distancing behavior among others” .
In other words: more people stayed at home during the protests, which balanced the new cases contracted by the protesters. Community broadcasting was not a major factor associated with the Black Lives Matter protests.
Despite protests that compromise CDC’s recommended social distancing protocols, the study proposes that the effect of the protest on social distancing practices was generally positive.
“While it is possible that the protests caused an increase in the spread of COVID-19 among those who attended the protests, we demonstrate that the protests had little effect on the spread of COVID-19 for the entire population of the counties with protests during more than three weeks after the start of the protest In most cases, the estimated longer-term effect (after 21 days) was negative, although not statistically distinguishable from zero, ”the authors write.
An atypical case observed during the study was found in Maricopa County, Arizona, the home of its capital, Phoenix. This follows the state that has trouble holding cases before organized protests.
Other states that show big increases include California, Florida and Texas.
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