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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Trump Rallies Spread Coronavirus


IDefying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.   It unfolds  as Coronavirus presents unprecedented challenges to public policy and the electoral process.   

Deb Riechmann at AP:

There are no crowds at Disneyland, still shut down by the coronavirus. Fewer fans attended the World Series this year than at any time in the past century. Big concerts are canceled.

But it’s a different story in Trumpland. Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters regularly cram together at campaign rallies around the country — masks optional and social distancing frowned upon.

Trump rallies are among the nation’s biggest events being held in defiance of crowd restrictions designed to stop the virus from spreading. This at a time when public health experts are advising people to think twice even about inviting many guests for Thanksgiving dinner.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, when you have congregate settings where people are crowded together and virtually no one is wearing a mask, that’s a perfect setup to have an outbreak of acquisition and transmissibility,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, recently told Yahoo News. “It’s a public health and scientific fact.”

The Effects of Large Group Meetings on the Spread of COVID-19: The Case of Trump Rallies. B. Douglas Bernheim Nina Buchmann Zach Freitas-Groff Sebastian Otero, Department of Economics, Stanford University.

We investigate the effects of large group meetings on the spread of COVID-19 by studying
the impact of eighteen Trump campaign rallies. To capture the effects of subsequent contagion within the pertinent communities, our analysis encompasses up to ten post-rally weeks for each event. Our method is based on a collection of regression models, one for each event, that capture the relationships between post-event outcomes and pre-event characteristics, including demographics and the trajectory of COVID-19 cases, in similar counties. We explore a total of 24 procedures for identifying sets of matched counties. For the vast majority of these variants, our estimate of the average treatment effect across the eighteen events implies that they increased subsequent confirmed cases of COVID-19 by more than 250 per 100,000 residents. Extrapolating this figure to the entire sample, we conclude that these eighteen rallies ultimately resulted in more than 30,000 incremental confirmed cases of COVID-19. Applying county-specific post-event death rates, we conclude that the rallies likely led to more than 700 deaths (not necessarily among attendees).
Nadia Kounang at CNN:
A CNN investigation of 17 Trump campaign rallies finds that 14 of the host counties -- 82% of them -- had an increased rate of new Covid-19 cases one month after the rally.
The 17 rallies occurred between August 17 and September 26. CNN evaluated the rate of new daily cases per 100,000 residents at four weeks before the rally, on the rally date, and four weeks after the rally at the county level and at the state level.
Of the 14 host counties that had increased infection rates, eight of the counties had declining rates of infection in the month before the rally. The other six counties already had increasing rates of infection in that preceding month.
CNN's analysis also found that in 10 counties, the new rates of infection were growing faster than the overall rate for the state.