Where is Covid-19 Spreading the Most? (Hint: Not Where Politicians Say)

A new article by Apoorva Mandavilli published in the New York Times this week asks a simple question: Is there data to suggest that social gatherings are the “engine” of the surge Covid-19, as officials keep saying? The answer, Mandavilli finds, is no.

To be clear: This is not to say that small social gatherings are safe. Think about it logically: If someone with Covid-19 attends your small gathering, you and everyone present are at risk of infection. Rather, as Mandavilli reports, while most states don’t collect or report data on sources of Covid-19 exposures the ones that do consistently show that the highest risk for exposure and spread of Covid-19 come from long-term care facilities, food processing plants, prisons, health care settings, and restaurants and bars. Mandavilli reports:

Social gatherings have become a convenient scapegoat for political leaders flummoxed by the steeply climbing numbers, some experts said.

“It seems like they’re passing off the responsibility for controlling the outbreak to individuals and individual choices,” said Ellie Murray, an epidemiologist at Boston University. “A pandemic is more a failure of the system than the failure of individual choices.”

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Alexandra Sifferlin

Alexandra Sifferlin

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that

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