Debunking Safe Protests

A recent story has been going around social media, and it says that there was no increase in covid-19 cases from the protest marches. Here’s one of the articles which seems to support the story, from Forbes. Similar articles have been run by the New York Times, the various alphabet channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, BBC, CBC), the Washington Post, the Guardian and more.

There’s only one small problem with the story… it’s crap, because that’s not what the research shows.

The research indicates that there was no large increase in covid-19 cases in almost any of the cities where marches were held. That’s not the same as saying that the protests didn’t cause increases. Not even remotely.

Here are two key findings from the analysis: ““cities which had protests saw an increase in social distancing behavior for the overall population relative to cities that did not” and “In many cities, the protests actually seemed to lead to a net increase in social distancing, as more people who did not protest decided to stay off the streets.”

For a given city’s population (“X”) a subset of that (“Y”) was attending the protests and the rest (“Z”) was not. If variables freak you out, imagine that out of your school class, a handful of kids went outside to shoot off fireworks.Imagine that injuries are used as the equivalent of catching covid-19. The unsupervised kids out shooting off fireworks are going to have a much greater incidence of injuries. Sure, many will walk away fine, but there will be some burns and cuts. Meanwhile, the kids in the school, rather than doing their normal school things, are all hunkered down in classrooms thinking that a shooter might be on campus. They’re not falling on stairwells or bumping each other into lockers or choking on bones which shouldn’t have been in the lunchroom jello in the first place.

If the number of injuries from the fireworks roughly balances out the number of injuries that students would normally have gotten inside, the class itself has no significant increase, but the subset of kids who went outside would have a dramatic increase.

If that were the case, we’d see a large jump in the number of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings coming down with covid-19 in the last two weeks, while we see a corresponding drop in the number of cases of other demographics… and, hey, guess what is EXACTLY what we’ve seen in these cities?

For the variable-inclined, here’s some qualitative analysis. X=Y+Z. If Y goes up and Z goes down by an equivalent amount, X remains the same.

So, YES, the protests caused a significant spread of covid-19. Now, let’s look at the other part of that… how social distancing increased, as found in the analyses.

We’ve seen the pictures and videos. People were linking arms and standing together at the protests… yes, some were maintaining distances, but not the majority of attendees who were in pictures. If social distancing actually increased during that time, it means that the people who weren’t attending the rallies were staying even further away from each other than normal.

This was likely due to local residents remaining at home, where they might otherwise have been performing actions which would have taken them to public areas.

Taking distancing as a key transmission factor, assuming those who stayed home would not have acted differently, there would have been a drop in cases were it not for the marches. In other words, attending the marches significantly increased people’s chances to catch covid-19.

The virus doesn’t have a brain, and it sure as hell isn’t “woke”. It doesn’t give a damn who people vote for. It doesn’t even care if they wear a mask. It will spread when it has opportunity to spread, period. That opportunity is greatly diminished outside, but it’s not reduced to nothing.

That’s not all. The analyses only covered the cities where the protests happened… but for many of those cities, people traveled from smaller towns and cities to attend the large protests. Any of them who contracted with the disease were not counted among the city-based numbers. This means the numbers of people who came down with it are almost certainly higher than the report suggests, because those who contracted it and then brought it home to a suburb or a distant town weren’t included.

It gets even worse. For at least some of the cities, contact tracing inquiries were not allowed to ask if people had attended the protests. That information could be volunteered by the people with the disease, and that was all. This renders the low rates of infection from people who’d been to the protests meaningless.

For another example, if there were fifty adults walking out of a My Little Pony convention holding an autograph from the voice actress of Twilight Sparkle, but only four of them were willing to admit they had been to a “Brony” convention, it would be stupid to say that only four people had attended. That’s effectively what’s happened with the protests.

Many of the same people who have been complaining about coronavirus being politicized are now touting false extrapolations from the articles that are out there… and it’s not completely their fault, because in many cases the articles have only included the information which seems to say that attending the protests was safe.

They think they’re helping their political cause. They’re hurting it, in two ways.

First, they’re undermining their credibility. It was only a few months ago when the news was full of stories about how there was a bump of about 80 cases from an anti-lockdown protest here or there were cases stemming from an anti-mask protest there. When it’s reported – or the presentation of the reports are slanted to present the impression – that the BLM marches were just peachy-keen, it’s unreasonable. Again, the virus doesn’t think and doesn’t care about politics. That would mean the reporting or the editing is politically biased… and if it’s aggressively biased, it’s not trustworthy.

Second, they’re killing their followers. The same people who snipe about how Trump rallies are going to lead to deaths are telling their readers that somehow attending a BLM protest leaves them unlikely to contract the virus, in direct opposition to what the math and the data demonstrate.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.