Publication Date


Document Type



Public Health and Recreation

Publication Title

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health






The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between public protests and county-level, novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hospitalization rates across California. Publicly available data were included in the analysis from 55 of 58 California state counties (29 March–14 October 2020). Mixed-effects negative binomial regression models were used to examine the relationship between daily county-level COVID-19 hospitalizations and two main exposure variables: any vs. no protests and 1 or >1 protest vs. no protests on a given county-day. COVID-19 hospitalizations were used as a proxy for viral transmission since such rates are less sensitive to temporal changes in testing access/availability. Models included covariates for daily county mobility, county-level characteristics, and time trends. Models also included a county-population offset and a two-week lag for the association between exposure and outcome. No significant associations were observed between protest exposures and COVID-19 hospitalization rates among the 55 counties. We did not find evidence to suggest that public protests were associated with COVID-19 hospitalization within California counties. These findings support the notion that protesting during a pandemic may be safe, ostensibly, so long as evidence-based precautionary measures are taken.


novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hospitalization, public protests, California, mixed-effects models, county-level


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