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Report: Protests did not lead to spike in COVID-19 cases in Dane Co.

(NBC15)
Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 3:12 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Black Lives Matter protests through the month of June are not connected to Dane County’s recent rise in COVID-19 cases, the health department concluded Thursday.

Public Health Madison & Dane County said that at this time, the protests do not appear to be influencing new numbers of coronavirus cases.

In its monthly report released Thursday, the health department reports that 622 people tested positive in Dane County between June 1 through June 24. In the report, respondents answered a series of questions, including the following question: “In the 14 days before symptom onset, did you attend a gathering, party, or meeting with people from outside your household”:

  • 288 answered "No."
  • 213 answered "Yes", and of those, 12 said they had attended a protest.
  • 6 answered "Unknown."

From June 13 through June 26, 614 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Dane County. The health department concludes that:

  • 45% of cases interviewed reported attending a gathering or party with people outside of their household.
  • 28% of cases (a total of 172) were associated with a cluster: 132 from bars, 14 from workplaces, 11 from congregate facilities, 3 from daycares/preschools, and 12 from other clusters.

The health department says their conclusion makes sense, as most protesters wore asks, and the protests were held outside - two of the best ways to decrease the spread of COVID-19, even though the protesters usually could not maintain social distancing during the rallies.

“Our data are not showing a large impact from protests at this time. This makes sense when thinking about what protests look like: they are outside, many people are wearing masks, and people are moving and not always near the same people for an extended period of time. With what we know about COVID-19, this activity is going to be less risky than gatherings that are indoors, do not have physical distancing, do not have people wearing masks, and include the same people near each other for extended periods of time.”

Public Health Madison & Dane County

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