Infosnips FILE - In this June 5, 2020 file photo, people raise their fists during a rally, in Las Vegas, against police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. A flood of donations during the surge of global protests following the death of Floyd have left racial equality and social justice groups in a position they might never have expected to be in: figuring out what to do with a surplus of cash.   (AP Photo/John Locher, File)Infosnips FILE - In this June 5, 2020 file photo, people raise their fists during a rally, in Las Vegas, against police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. A flood of donations during the surge of global protests following the death of Floyd have left racial equality and social justice groups in a position they might never have expected to be in: figuring out what to do with a surplus of cash.   (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

People raise their fists during a rally in Las Vegas against police brutality on June 5, 2020.

Associated Press


  • Major protest cities including New York, Washington DC, and Minneapolis, are not seeing coronavirus case counts rise.
  • One main reason is the virus doesn’t spread well outdoors in the sun.
  • Another is that when protesters took to the streets, many others stayed home, improving citywide social distancing overall. 
  • Across the southern US, as more places reopen and people gather together once again, virus cases are on the rise, especially in confined spaces like bars and workplaces. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Generally speaking, America is not doing very well with the coronavirus. 

On Wednesday, the nation recorded its highest daily coronavirus case count yet, with more than 36,000 newly confirmed infections.  

As many states continue with their reopening plans, and people begin to gather together again, the virus — which spreads from person to person through close contact — is picking up steam. 

Curiously, though, it appears that the civil rights protests that broke out in hundreds of big cities around the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death seem to be lending surprisingly little fuel to this virus’ spread. Major cities including New York, Chicago, and Washington DC, where protests were widespread and lasted for weeks on end, are actually seeing their coronavirus case counts fall. 

Take a look:

Infosnips cases tracking after protests



Ruobing Su/Business Insider


Part of the explanation for this effect may hinge on the fact that the virus doesn’t do well outdoors, and on top of that many protesters wore masks. Public health experts are still weary to suggest that attending a protest – where people shout, chant, and stand close to one another — is a risk-free proposition

But there is another wrinkle in the protest data that suggests one more factor is at play.

In a June National Bureau of Economic Research paper, researchers suggested that part of the reason for the downward trend of coronavirus cases in major protest cities may be that when protesters took to the streets, their actions encouraged others to stay home, thus improving citywide social distancing overall. 

Using anonymous cell phone tracking data from hundreds of major cities across the US, the researchers found that more people started staying home as their citywide protests began, while in other, protest-less pockets of the country, people relaxed their social distancing protocols, meeting face-to-face once again. 

Though it’s impossible to be sure about all the myriad factors at play in nationwide infection rates today, there’s no denying that the data suggest that major protest cities are simply not becoming the viral hotbeds many had feared they might. Instead, what we’re learning is that this virus likes cramped, stuffy quarters, where people hang out together for hours at a time, especially if they don’t wear masks.

Here’s how the data shakes out in seven cities that held major protests, and four others where the virus is spreading rapidly.

Infosnips By May 28, the protests had reached New York City, where the streets of Manhattan were packed with masked protesters.

Infection rates continue to fall in New York, which was for a long time the epicenter of America’s coronavirus pandemic.

But in a telling indication of how the pandemic has shifted focus, on Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered anyone traveling to his state from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah or Washington to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, for fear those new hotspots may risk re-infecting The Empire State. 

Infosnips On May 29, Black Lives Matter demonstrations spread to Brooklyn, as police vehicles burned, and protesters were pepper sprayed. Still, the coronavirus appears to have been kept at bay.

As of Tuesday, June 23, only 1% of the people being tested in New York state were positive for the coronavirus. 

Part of the reason that New York may be getting its outbreak under control is because most people wear masks outside the home, as required.

Recent research estimated mask-wearing prevented 66,000 coronavirus infections across New York City, in just a one-month period from April 6 to May 9.

Infosnips In Washington DC, protesters were subjected to tear gas and rubber bullets. Despite all the coughing and running, coronavirus rates in the nation’s capital remain low.

The district moved this week to allow indoor dining, gym workouts, and library visits for the first time in months, as the city continues with its phased reopening plans. 

Infosnips In Chicago, the health commissioner said that the city has “actually blown right past the bench marks” for continuing with its reopening schedule.

Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said “the data really let us know” that the city is ready to let museums, gyms, and movie theaters all reopen to the public on Friday June 24, while residents still should remain mindful to keep their distance, and wear masks, the Chicago Tribune reported. 

“I feel good about the fact that we’re moving forward, but we need people to keep wearing those face coverings, keeping that 6-foot distance and doing all the things we can do to keep Chicago on the good track that we’ve been,” Arwady said. 

Infosnips In Seattle, near where the nation’s very first confirmed coronavirus cases was detected in January, and where vociferous protests have continued for weeks since Floyd’s death, infections are also down.

Seattle’s case numbers are starting to trending slightly higher, but that’s likely due to the fact that the city started opening up earlier this month, letting people ease up on their home isolation measures, and visit friends again.

Because it usually takes about one or two weeks from the time a person is exposed for them to get sick with this virus (the so-called incubation period) it’s a little too late to assume that higher coronavirus rates we’re seeing in recent days are a result of the George Floyd protests, which started at the end of May.

In fact, the King County health officer recently told KUOW that the health department only knows of thirty-one cases of sick people who said they’d been at a protest, out of hundreds of infections counted up in recent weeks.

On Friday June 26, Washington Governor Jay Inslee is going to start mandating people in his state wear masks when they’re out in public, to help curb the virus’ spread

“It’s like a civic duty,” Elaine Shuo Feng, an epidemiologist and statistician with the Oxford Vaccine Group, previously told Business Insider. “People wear the mask to protect themselves, and also protect others.”

Infosnips But further south in Phoenix, Arizona, cases have been steadily rising since the state reopened in mid-May.

Will Humble, former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said the surge in new cases in that state was “definitely related” to when the stay-at-home order lifted, after May 15.

Despite triple-digit temperatures in Maricopa County, there were several days of outdoor protests in Phoenix after Floyd’s death, in late May and early June, but state officials don’t think that’s what’s driving the outbreak. 

“If I had the opportunity to do so,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told WBUR on June 12, “I would closely follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which would have us opening in stages, and would not have allowed us to go straight to packed nightclubs with no masks.”

Infosnips And in Palm Beach, Florida, where the lone Black Lives Matter protester was an 80-year-old white woman, the coronavirus is flourishing like never before.

Florida continues to bust its own coronavirus records, and governor Ron DeSantis said he has no intention of making masks mandatory, even though new estimates from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (which the White House often uses) suggest that hundreds of lives could be saved across the US every day just by everyone wearing them. 

“Ultimately, you have to trust people to make good decisions,” DeSantis said on June 24

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Infosnips Las Vegas has also seen a sharp uptick in cases lately, like many areas of the sunbelt, but the infections don’t seem to be tied to a specific event or area of Clark County.

“What we’re seeing is just people all over the community, for all the different areas of Clark County, who are becoming infected with the coronavirus,” Dr. Fermin Leguin, Southern Nevada Health District’s acting chief health officer, told Business Insider. 

The governor recently decided to slow down Nevada’s phased reopening plan, and starting Friday, masks will be mandatory indoors.

Infosnips In Tallahassee, where infections are also on a troubling upward slope, local officials just made masks mandatory, despite the Florida governor’s reluctance to do the same.

“You’re under a roof, you’re wearing a mask,” County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge said of the new requirement, which began Thursday, June 25. 

The commission, which voted unanimously to make masks mandatory, will review the order every week, Tallahassee Reports said

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