Black Lives Matter protests have not led to a spike in coronavirus cases, research says

'Furthermore, we find no evidence that urban protests reignited Covid-19 case growth during the more than three weeks following protest onset'

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 24 June 2020 20:35 BST
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A study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that Black Lives Matter protests ignited by the killing of George Floyd by police had no measurable impact on the spread of Covid-19, and may have actually helped increase social distancing behaviours.

Despite the protests attracting large groups of people - not only protesters, but also police and media workers - the study theorized that the demonstrations also may have influenced more people to stay in their homes.

"Event-study analyses provide strong evidence that net stay-at-home behaviour increased following protest onset, consistent with the hypothesis that non-protesters' behaviour was substantially affected by urban protests," the study concluded.

The study also claimed that there was no evidence suggesting the protests actively spread Covid-19.

"Furthermore, we find no evidence that urban protests reignited Covid-19 case growth during the more than three weeks following protest onset. We conclude that predictions of broad negative public health consequences of Black Lives Matter protests were far too narrowly conceived," the study said.

The study said that though increased spread of the virus was likely between participants at the protests, the impact it had on non-protesters off-set the overall spread.

"Our findings suggest that any direct decrease in social distancing among the subset of the population participating in the protests is more than offset by increasing social distancing behaviour among others who may choose to shelter-at-home and circumvent public places while the protests are underway," the report states.

The authors theorize that even if fear or disagreement with the protests weren't the primary factors keeping people home, other adjacent factors - such as traffic congestion or street closures connected to the demonstrations - may have discouraged travel in the cities.

Though the study is an unexpected bit of good news, cases of coronavirus have been increasing throughout the country in the weeks following state reopening efforts.

Florida has more than 100,000 confirmed cases as of Monday, and Wednesday New York, New Jersey and Connecticut began imposing restrictions on travellers coming in from coronavirus hot spots.

Health officials in Texas reported an all-time high of 5,849 new cases Tuesday, and California reported a record high number of new cases, 6,712.

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