Children’s birthdays may have contributed to the spread of COVID-19
(NEXSTAR) – A new study shows that children’s birthdays could be partly responsible for the deadly increase in COVID-19 cases in early 2020.
Researchers looked at anonymous health insurance data from 2.9 million households in the first 45 weeks of the year to see if such gatherings were linked to higher rates of COVID-19 transmission.
In counties where coronavirus rates are higher overall, households who had a birthday during that time saw a 31% relative increase in COVID diagnoses than households without a birthday, according to the study, which was released. in JAMA Internal Medicine.
In those counties, the average jumped to 8.6 cases per 10,000 people, but for households with children celebrating birthdays, that number was almost twice as high – an increase of 15.8.
In counties with low COVID-19 spread, however, data has not shown an increase in cases in the two weeks following birthdays, whether children or adults.
Workplaces and business settings were closely watched as policymakers tried to keep the public safe during the height of the pandemic, but statistics on informal gatherings were difficult to come by, the lead author says. of the study, Anupam Jena, physician and associate professor of health policy at Harvard Medical School. The birthdays, which were included in the insurance claim data, provided “an opportunity to empirically quantify the potential role of small social gatherings in the spread of COVID-19.”
“There is a natural tendency not to think that your family members or friends are potentially infected or that you could potentially spread to family members or friends,” said Dr Chris Whaley, author study and policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. USA today.
The study also found that when comparing counties with strict stay-at-home policies versus those without, there was no statistically appreciable difference. The same results were seen in counties that overwhelmingly voted for Trump compared to those that did not.
“It certainly suggests that people weren’t buying shelter-in-place policies for this particular type of event,” Jena said. The Guardian.
As of Monday, there were more than 33,500,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States which resulted in 601,961 deaths, the highest number of any country in the world.