- 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:
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.