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It was only 10 days ago that New York City's illustrious Mayor Bill de Blasio instructed contact tracers within the five boroughs to not ask COVID-19 positive persons whether they had participated in protests. Now the city that never sleeps is reporting that there's no uptick in coronavirus cases as a result of the protests.
But really, who knows? There also hasn't been a dramatic uptick in testing.
The first New York City protest in the wake of George Floyd's killing was on May 29, and demonstrations, some that have turned violent and riotous, have been flaring up across the city ever since. One protest for "Black Trans Lives Matter" drew thousands of participants.
The city records their coronavirus numbers differently than the state. On May 29, there were 649 reported coronavirus cases by the city, 752 by the state. One week later on June 4, 511 by city numbers, 534 by the state. Two weeks out at June 11, the reported cases drop to 353 city, 437 state, and three weeks after the first protests in New York, on June 18, there were 335 newly reported cases by the city, 410 by state count. As of yesterday's data, there were 371 by state count, city numbers are not yet recorded.
The disparity is no doubt confusing. On June 7, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo urged protestors to get tested for coronavirus. He promised the opening of 15 new centres specifically for that purpose. Yet testing numbers have remained pretty steady, with no apparent sharp uptick in the numbers of people getting tested as a result of the protests. June 18 saw over 36,000 tests, which is the peak of June testing.
Cuomo told people to get tested, but did they? Contact tracers didn't ask about their protest activity, so was it factored in at all?
A study emerged this week from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which has not been peer reviewed, but posits that these massive protests have not led to a drastic uptick in cases, despite the dramatic national uptick in cases.
One theory is that many non-protestors stayed home during the protests even more than they did during the early stages of the coronavirus spread. Protests that turn violent offer those who abhor violence a good reason to stay home. This study, through the use of cellphone data, surmises that social distancing increased as a result of the protests. The protests further shut society down.
Vox writes that because the protests were outdoors, they were not responsible for the recent uptick in cases. They note that "people were able to practice their rights to free speech and assembly without contributing to the ongoing pandemic." However, when it came to the free speech expressions made by anti-lockdown protestors, Vox claims that those protestors' flouting of social distancing norms were racist.
The protestors who came out into the cities to express their freedom of speech, as well as those who burned down buildings, shut down bridges and highways, taxed the resources of police departments, held drum circles etc., were primarily young. Data has shown that young people are less likely to contract or spread the illness. That could also be a factor.
What's most clear, however, about the summation of this confusing and often contradictory data is that the mainstream media believes, fully, that when people express their resentment of status quo in an anti-racist manner, and when people express their resentment of the status quo in any other capacity, the moral weight of justice is on the protestors.
Open beaches were thought to be populated by shallow racist folks, while protests are peopled by people doing the work of social justice. One group, according to media accounts, deserves what they get, the other group is sin and consequence free.