Trends and science: Blaming Memorial Day, protests for coronavirus cases is misleading

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Coronavirus graphic

A rendering of coronavirus via the CDC.

BALTIMORE, Md. — As daily United States coronavirus reports continue to unfold, the number of cases has recently been attributed to both relaxed Memorial Day weekend restrictions, and most recently, protests over the death of George Floyd.

Both claims are misleading based on the trends of cases in the country as well as on the scientific understanding of how the virus manifests.

A report by Johns Hopkins University analyzes how the curve has flattened across the top 10 countries most affected by the coronavirus. Charts show daily reported numbers and lines that approximate the changing infection rate.

  • Picture of US coronavirus trend graphic
  • Picture of US trends

In this report, the U.S. has maintained a slow but steady decrease in number of daily cases over time since the peak infection rate in early April. Although the rate alternates between slight increases and slightly bigger decreases, the cases are generally trending downward.

The data was last updated June 3. There have been no major, recent outlying changes in this trend.

The virus usually takes four to five days from exposure to show symptoms, though rare cases can take up to 14 days, according to the CDC.

It has been nine days since Memorial day. Yet, no major changes indicate the weekend celebrations may not have had as big of effect as officials speculated.

Also, it has only been five days since major protests erupted on Friday, May 29, and even fewer days since the protests have grown nationwide. Although it may still be too early to truly know how the demonstrations contributed to the coronavirus spread, the data up to this point suggests there hasn’t been much of a difference. Therefore, protests cannot be directly attributed to spreading the virus.

Ultimately, the number of new cases for the past two days hover at about 20,000. That’s ultimately much lower than the April high of more than 36,000. The trend of cases over the past week has also shown a significant drop.

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