Protests or Bars? It Is an Empirical Question

In light of the recent and ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, as well as the earlier anti-COVID-19 restriction protests, we are witnessing many pundits with no epidemiological, medical, or microbiological training opining about whether these protests will lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases (here’s what one actual biologist thinks).

What is frustrating is that this could be treated as an empirical question. We could answer this. I stress could, since, in too many localities, we lack a comprehensive test and trace system–in too many places, it’s still reactive and only examining close contacts. This is something states, with federal guidance and funding, could have built, but did not.

If we had this in place, we would have some idea of the relative roles of protests versus restriction loosening. Instead, we’ll just yell at each other some more. Maybe this is American Exceptionalism?*

Greatest healthcare system in the world…

*Apollo 11 was over fifty years ago, and The Martian isn’t real. Time to face that the U.S. is no longer the can-do nation, to the extent we ever were.

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