Q&A – Are Protests To Blame For The Spike In COVID-19 Cases?

Today’s entry: I wonder if we’ll ever know how much the protests are contributing to the increased positive tests. Do we know if many protesters are getting tested? 

Bottom Line: The only definitive information we have regarding the protests and the coronavirus, according to the Coronavirus Task Force, 70 test sites were destroyed by them. That being said we know multiple protests led to the spread of COVID-19. National Guard members in multiple states have tested positive for COVID-19 after protests. The actual number isn’t disclosed for national security reasons, but it confirms at least some protests helped spread the virus. George Floyd was killed on May 25th, now over three weeks ago. Localized protests began the next day and by Friday, May 29th, all 50 states plus numerous countries had protests taking place. With an incubation period of 2-14 days, we can look at the numbers to observe trends. 

On May 25th, we had 90,040 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. On June 12th, exactly two weeks after the worldwide protests began, we had our highest daily diagnosed case count with 142,112 new cases. That’s 52,072 more cases, an increase of 58%, over the complete incubation period of two weeks. An increase in testing potentially accounts for less than 30% of the increase. 

Is it possible, even likely that continued reopening efforts contributed? Sure, it’s possible, though to date states had reopened while continuing to see a decrease in cases. Based on the timing of the spike in new cases, which lines up perfectly with the timing of the protests, and the knowledge that National Guard members contracted the virus while at protests, it’s pretty clear the protests have been a major catalyst behind the increase. 

Also, the fastest growth in newly diagnosed cases of any ten-year age range has been 25-34 over that time. Specific to Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health, most new cases are now coming from those between the ages of 25-64. Additionally, the average age of someone diagnosed with the virus since testing began, has dropped from 54 to 46 over the last week in Florida. The shift in demographic growth towards younger adults also matches the demographics of the protesters. Moreover, of the 35 hot zips for the virus in the tri-county, only two are in rural/agricultural communities, that's not the explanation for what’s happened either. It is clear protests have a been significant factor, potentially the most significant factor, in the rise of cases to their highest levels across the country and right here in South Florida. 

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Photo by: Getty Images North America

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