CNN has tallied up Covid numbers by county in the aftermath of several recent campaign rallies featuring President Donald Trump. It has found that 14 out of the 17 host counties saw an increased rate of cases one month after the event.
Separately, the day before election day, researchers at Stanford University published their own work on the tie between rallies and contagion. They found that more than 30,000 cases of viral infection can be traced to one of these events, and that the rallies may have led to more than 700 deaths (not all the fatalities would have been rally participants).
The Stanford researchers were careful to acknowledge and account for alternative possible explanations of the contagions of rally attendants. For example, one might hypothesize that the presence of a Trump rally leads people, including its attendees, to become more curious about Covid-19 and to have themselves tested. This would be consistent with a common talking point of the President and his allies: that the apparent increase in cases in general is an artifact created by the prevalence of testing.
The researchers found no support for that hypothesis. For example, if rallies simply increased “cases” by increasing testing in the area, they would have no impact on the death rate at all. But they do have such an impact.
In Pill Form:
The five Stanford researchers were not doctors. They were economists. But as they say their findings serve to reinforce the warnings that the public has for months been receiving from health officials. “The CDC has advised that large in-person events, particularly in settings where participants do not wear masks or practice social distancing, pose a substantial risk of further contagion.”