- In contrast to high rates of COVID-19, families with births had a 31% risk of becoming infected.
- Experts say that’s why people tend to gather for birthdays.
- The diversity of public events, COVID-19 disseminated in small meetings has been difficult to measure.
- Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.
Using data from the health claims of 2.9 million homes from January to November 2020, researchers at Harvard Medical School, RAND Corporation, and Castlight Health analyzed COVID-19 rates two weeks after a family member celebrated a birthday.
Although children have a lower risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, and of transmitting the virus, the authors found more cases related to the feasts of children than adults.
The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that in counties with high rates of COVID-19, families with births two weeks earlier had a 31% risk of using COVID-19 compared with families without birthdays.
Researchers have found Democrats and Republicans they behaved differently during the pandemic, but the county’s political affiliations did not change the risk of obtaining COVID-19.
The researchers did not track whether the families hosted a birthday party, they assumed that people would gather for a son birthday. The more people at a party, the higher the risk of being exposed to COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The spread of COVID-19 was more difficult to follow in small meetings
While the spread of COVID-19 was easier to follow public events – such as measurement of COVID-19 cases and deaths – and small meetings were more difficult to measure.
KJ Seung, the head of strategy and policy for the COVID-19 response of Partners in Health Massachusetts and involved in a contact tracking system, told the New York Times that contact trackers had difficulty following widespread COVID-19 at a social gathering, in part because people didn’t remember it or were ashamed to admit it when they met someone for dinner.
“Small social gatherings are the hardest places to track,” Seung said. But, “when we talked about contacting tracers across the country, they were like, ‘Yeah, people get infected in these little encounters.’
Dr. Ashsh Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health also told the New York Times that, unlike public places, people feel safer in their homes. “There was definitely this element of your house being a safe place and so when you have your friends and family at home, you don’t feel risky,” Jha said.
Given that children under the age of 12 are also not eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, researchers have warned that children’s parties can always be a risk.