There is no evidence yet that the wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. sparked COVID-19 outbreaks in the more than three weeks since they began, according to a study published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Rather, as the protests went on, people who were not participating increasingly stayed at home, possibly counteracting any effects the large gatherings may have had on the spread of the virus, the researchers concluded.
The researchers actually found a relative increase in stay-at-home behaviors by those not attending protests after they began in a city, with people really starting to stay at home by the third day of the protests.
In the paper, the authors suggested that this increase in staying at home may have offset the decrease in social distancing observed by those participating in protests.
However, the authors said that while there was little effect on the spread of COVID-19 for counties as a whole, it’s possible that the protests caused an increase in the spread of COVID-19 among those who actually attended the protests.