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Low incidence of COVID-19 among protestors given voluntary tests: WIRED


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A report in WIRED on June 18 revealed that there was a low incidence of positive COVID-19 tests in people who were voluntarily tested after the protests in Minneapolis.  After May 25, there were large-scale protests against police brutality due to the killing of George Floyd.  The first night of protests, there was arson, vandalism, and looting, especially in the area around the site of Floyd’s death.  After that, there were peaceful all-day marches and demonstrations all over the city.  Responding to the protests, free testing sites were set up and over ten thousand people had COVID-19 tests.  From the WIRED article:

Of the 3,200 people tested so far at the four popup sites across the metro, 1.8 percent have tested positive for Covid-19, says Ehresmann. HealthPartners, one of the largest health care providers in Minnesota, also reported to the state that it had tested about 8,500 people who indicated that attendance at a mass gathering was the reason they wanted a test. Among them, 0.99 percent tested positive.

These positive rates are low and reflective of a background level of infections rather than transmission during the protests.  This low rate may be due to the fact that most of the protests took place during the day and all were outdoors.  Most of the protestors wore masks.  These findings alleviate the concerns expressed by a number of experts that the protests might be a cause of increased infections.  While it is too soon to be certain, Minnesota has not shown an increase in new cases as a result of the protests.

The article goes on to report a low incidence of positive tests in Seattle and Boston.  In addition, total rates of new cases in the state of Minnesota have been going down in the last two weeks.  The article mentions the protective effects of mask-wearing and the politicization of same.  Finally, it discusses the potential effects of the rally in Tulsa– if masks are insufficiently protective in an indoor setting, then the rally could cause an increase in new cases.

The effect of the protests on new cases was also mentioned in an article in Medpage Today for June 18.

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