Small social benefits are not driving the virus growth (too far)

An analysis of nearly 800 nursing homes in six states, including North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, found that these homes are still hot spots of viral transmission and that little has been done since spring to reduce that risk.

It is almost impossible to compare the relative contribution of social ceremonies to the number of cases in different states, or even to find a coherent definition of what constitutes a gathering.

Rhode Island, which limited private ceremonies to 10 people, defined the term supportive, including family as well as birthdays, parties, baby showers, and sleepovers. But some states also add major events, such as weddings and funerals, to the category.

These meetings, especially if held indoors, can definitely ward off infection. In rural Maine, a wedding with 55 guests eventually resulted in 177 cases, while a wedding in Washington State led to at least 17. Outbreaks in communities with tight-knit social networks, such as the Amish and Hasidic Jewish populations, were also driven by large social events.

But the same cannot be said of small private gatherings with friends and family. In Colorado, only 81 active cases are attributed to social ceremonies, compared to more than 4,000 from correctional centers and prisons, 3,300 from colleges and universities, about 2,400 from assisted living facilities, and restaurants, bars, casinos, and bowling. There are 450 from the streets.

In Louisiana, social incidents account for only 1.7 percent of the 3,300 cases for which the state has clear information.

The director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Drs. “It’s important to give good public health advice about what’s coming in the holidays,” said Tom Inglesby. “But it is not good to suggest that they are now the priority of the source of propagation.”

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