States That Reopened These Places Early Saw Huge COVID Spikes, Says Study

A new report shows a common theme among states that reopened these businesses and are now seeing surges.

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The current surge in coronavirus cases across the country has led to a serious discussion about the best approach when it comes to reopening. And many have noticed that states that took more of a back-to-business-as-usual approach have since been suffering the consequences. Now, a new report from the consumer review database Yelp shows a concerning and common theme among states currently seeing a sharp increase. According to Yelp's Economic Average report, states that reopened three specific businesses early are the same ones that are seeing current COVID-19 spikes. What businesses exactly? Restaurants, bars and nightlife, and gyms.

The Yelp report looks at data from the second quarter of 2020. It compares the search activity of people looking at business pages as COVID-19 cases increased, with the same activity in May when some states started to relax stay-at-home orders. Perhaps not surprisingly, the data indicates a statistically significant correlation between states that saw an increased interest in restaurants, bars and nightlife, and gyms in May and an increase in COVID-19 cases in June.

man in medical mask exercising with barbell in gym
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The 10 states with the largest increase in Yelp search activity in May are Florida, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Kansas, Alabama, all states that saw a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Conversely, the nine states with the largest decrease in COVID-19 cases in June—Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Illinois—had relatively flat consumer interest in restaurants, bars and nightlife, and gyms.

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As medical and public health officials learn more about the novel coronavirus, research shows that crowded and poorly ventilated indoor areas are among the riskiest places to contract COVID-19. This is chief among the reasons why indoor dining, spending time at bars, and working out at the gym have been on hold in many states still taking a more cautious approach to reopening—and why other states in danger have rolled back on their reopening of these businesses as cases spike. For example, California closed bars, indoor dining, and entertainment activities on July 13 and Arizona shut bars, gyms, and movie theaters back down on June 29.

Many experts have been pushing for bars in particular to close in the states where COVID is spreading rapidly. The nation's top immunologist Anthony Fauci, MD, has repeatedly called for bars to shut down, especially in coronavirus hotspot areas. And Admiral Brett Giroir, the White House's coronavirus testing czar, also recently advised that states should "close bars in those hot areas." And for more on the states that aren't faring well, check out 11 States Where Locking Down Again Is Absolutely Necessary.

 

 

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