Black Lives Matter protests have not caused increase in COVID-19 cases: research

The National Bureau of Economic Research stated there was no evidence that coronavirus cases went up during the weeks following the beginning of the protests.

A protester holds up a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign during a rally as part of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ worldwide protests against racism and police brutality, on Place de la Republique in Paris on June 13, 2020. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite initial concerns from health officials, new research suggests that the rise in Black Lives Matter protests across the country have not led to a spike in coronavirus cases.

According to a new study, published this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, there was no evidence that coronavirus cases went up during the weeks following the beginning of the protests. They began after the death of George Floyd in May while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

A man holds a picture of George Floyd during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 18, 2020 in New York City. Protesters plan to mark Juneteenth with demonstrations against racism and police brutality planned in cities across the country. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

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This data was collected from over 300 of the largest US cities and surprisingly found that social distancing behaviors were actually heightened in the wake of the protests. People who weren’t taking part in the demonstrations were more intentional about staying indoors and avoiding areas where they were taking place.

“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 behavior among others who may choose to shelter-at-home and circumvent public places while the protests are underway,” the report reads.

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Despite this encouraging news, the report warns that it is still possible that protests may have caused an increase in the spread of the virus among those who attended and were in close proximity to each other.

Researchers also hypothesized that the positive effect of protests encouraging people to be more mindful of social distancing and stay-at-home orders may fade over time. As the scope and intensity of these demonstrations die down, non-protesters will likely feel safer leaving their homes and ignoring health guidelines.

“There are other possible explanations for our findings as well, such as avoiding travel outside the home due to additional traffic congestion or street closures, or due to lack of available activities from businesses closures near protest sites,” the study declared.

To that point, new data shows that more and more young people are testing positive for coronavirus, particularly in states that have opened back up. According to the Florida Department of Health, Monday, that state alone surpassed 100,000 total confirmed coronavirus cases.

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