The blocks that almost all states to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020 disrupted almost every aspect of American life. Companies they were closed, schools closed and social groups stopped meeting while scientists rushed to understand the pathways through which the virus spread.
One of the most controversial parts of the blockchain strategy in the United States was the closure of churches across the country.
But how a religious data analyst, I think the latest evidence seems to point to the clear conclusion that there was a correlation between attending church and the spread of COVID-19.
Closures and reactions
Public health experts he insisted strongly on the churches cease congregational meetings during the worst parts of the pandemic, noting that religious services were an ideal vector for spreading the virus. They pointed to incidents like the one in March 2020 when a choir was practicing in a church caused 87% of attendees to be infected with COVID-19 and two life-losing members.
But the closures were attended to by one massive reaction among conservative Christians who believed that executive orders to close religious institutions were one clear violation of the protection of religious freedom of the First Amendment. Some places of worship simply they have ignored state closure orders. As the pandemic unfolded and people tired of social isolation, many churches, mosques and synagogues began to open again.
While this was bad news from a public health perspective, it meant that social scientists were able to investigate whether the church during the pandemic actually led to a higher level of infection. And in March 2021, the Cooperative Electoral Study published the results of a survey it submitted in October 2020. The annual survey conducted by the American public conducted a total of 61,000 respondents surveyed on various topics.
In addition to a question about their level of church attendance, respondents were asked if they had been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the past year. Due to the highly partisan nature of the pandemic response and subsequent blockades, the show was divided into Republicans, Democrats and independents.
The trend in the data is unequivocal: the more frequently someone goes to church, the more likely they are to report being diagnosed with COVID-19 during the first seven months of the pandemic.
Only 3% of Republicans and 4% of Democrats who never attended church were more likely to respond than have been infected. Among those who attended church several times a week, nearly 11 percent of Democrats had tested positive for coronavirus, while 8 percent of Republicans reported the same.
It is worth noting that there is not a large partisan gap in those who reported a positive test of COVID-19: in most cases the proportion of Democrats and Republicans who had been infected did not deviate by more than one percentage point. That’s enough tests that Democrats took public health directives more seriously; however, this may have been offset by the fact that democratic areas tend to have a high population density. Urban areas were especially hit hard in the early days of the pandemic.
The results of the survey include some warnings. It is important to note that this is a self-reported infection survey, without any independent verification. A concept in public opinion research called “bias of social convenienceIt highlights the tendency of respondents to lie when asked a sensitive question. As such, the number of infected people can be underestimated. In addition, the data were compiled before the largest growth in COVID-19 infections in early January 2021and, as a result, the data only captures those who were previously infected with the pandemic.
And while the focus here is on church attendance, it is logical to conclude that people who felt comfortable returning to weekend worship were also more willing to participate in other social activities. Therefore, it is difficult to isolate whether church attendance was the vector most likely to spread the infection or whether the general disposition toward social gatherings increased the likelihood of positive COVID-19.
However, it seems fair to conclude that those who attended church most frequently in 2020 were also more likely to become infected with COVID-19. There is now a lot of research suggesting that social distancing, avoiding crowds, and meeting people outdoors are mitigating factors when it comes to spreading the virus, all of which is harder to do within a church.