An analysis of nearly 800 nursing homes in six states with the largest increases, including North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, found that these homes are still hot spots for viral transmission and that little have been made since the spring to reduce this risk.
It is almost impossible to compare the relative contribution of social gatherings to the number of cases in different states, or even to find a consistent definition of what constitutes a gathering.
Rhode Island, which limited private gatherings to 10 people, helpfully defined the term, including family reunions, birthdays, baby showers, and sleepovers. But some states also add larger events, such as weddings and funerals, to the category.
These gatherings, especially if held indoors, can certainly cause infections. In rural Maine, a wedding with 55 guests ultimately resulted in 177 cases, while a wedding in Washington state led to at least 17. through major social events.
But the same can’t be said for small private gatherings with friends and family. In Colorado, only 81 active cases are attributed to social gatherings, compared to more than 4,000 in correctional centers and prisons, 3,300 in colleges and universities, nearly 2,400 in assisted living facilities, and 450 in restaurants, bars, casinos and bowling lanes.
In Louisiana, social events represent only 1.7% of the 3,300 cases for which the state has clear information about the exposure.
“It’s important to give good public health advice on what’s to come over the holidays, without a doubt,” said Dr Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health . “But it is not good to suggest that they are now the preponderance of the source of the spread.”