The Relationship Between Black Lives Matter Protests and COVID-19
Recently, the United States of America surpassed 4,000,000 cases of COVID-19. (CDC). The number of cases has continued to grow or exponentially for a number of reasons, but one in particular that deserves further exploration is the link between the protests sparked by George Floyd's death and the seemingly coinciding exponential increases in many parts of the country. For example, California was one of the hotspots of activism with massive protests taking place in cities like Los Angeles. There has been a significant increase in the cases in Los Angeles County over the past month. However, are the increase in cases linked to the protests?
There would be an intuitive logical connection between protests increasing the overall number of cases due to many of the behaviors at a protest. At a protest, there are large groupings of people gathered in a relatively small area that can make social distancing very difficult. If police use tear gas or other tactics to break up these crowds, the protestors will be coughing and spewing bodily fluids out into the rest of the crowd which the rest of the people in attendance will absorb. Furthermore, people are chanting loudly which can increase the exposure of air particles.
At this point in time, there is very little evidence to suggest that the protests increased the cases of COVID-19. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is very little evidence to suggest that there was a significant increase in cases following the three weeks after Mr. Floyd's death (NBER). The rise in cases has been linked to the lack of mask-wearing as masks have been proven over and over again to be effective protection against the virus (Howard). The protests did not have a significant increase in the overall number of cases for a number of reasons. The primary being the very prevalent use of masks amongst the protestors combined with effective social distancing techniques.
According to Micah Koss, a university student and social justice activist, the protests have been effectively spaced out and require the use of masks. He went to numerous protests across Pennslyvania and saw no evidence of transmission despite the drastic increase in cases in the state. This singular piece of anecdotal evidence is consistent with protests across the country.
(Credit: Micah Koss)
In conclusion, going to a protest is safe as long as you wear a mask and social distance to the best of your ability.