A series of rallies held by President Donald Trump over three months this summer functioned as COVID-19 superspreader events, leading to thousands more cases and hundreds more deaths than otherwise would have occurred, Stanford University researchers concluded.
Academics from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research focused on 18 events between June 20 and Sept. 22 and tracked community spread of the coronavirus up to 10 weeks after the rallies, reasoning that “the effects of a superspreader event may snowball over time.”
The rallies resulted in more than 30,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 700 deaths, though not necessarily among attendees, the researchers’ working paper published Friday concluded.
“Our analysis strongly supports the warnings and recommendations of public health officials concerning the risk of COVID-19 transmission at large group gatherings, particularly when the degree of compliance with guidelines concerning the use of masks and social distancing is low,” the authors said.
“The communities in which Trump rallies took place paid a high price in terms of disease and death,” they concluded.
The paper has not yet undergone peer review.
Three of the events ― in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Phoenix; and Henderson, Nevada ― took place indoors; the rest happened outdoors.
Photos and video from Trump’s events showed that few attendees wore masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Trump has made a point to say “masks are OK,” but he has repeatedly denigrated his Democratic opponent Joe Biden for wearing one, and recently poked fun at an ally, Laura Ingraham, for masking up.
“Another reason these events may be likely to cause significant onward transmission is because the people who attend them are ... less likely to wear masks and to socially distance, and the same is probably more true among their contacts than it is among the friends of people who would decide against attending such...