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Misleading: Holiday Gatherings and COVID Surge

Tracy Davenport Tracy Davenport
3rd March 2021
Misleading: Holiday Gatherings and COVID Surge
Overall the U.S. did not show a surge (Getty Images).

The Claim

Holiday gatherings caused a COVID-19 surge.

Emerging story

Experts warned that COVID-19 cases would surge after Christmas and New Year’s Eve due to social gatherings and relaxed attitudes. Many on social media then said the holidays caused a surge in cases. 

Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar has discovered there is no evidence to support there was a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases as a result of holiday gatherings. 

In a report developed by the American Council on Science and Health, COVID-19 case rates increased steadily from October in all regions and leveled off in early December. They declined after Christmas and the New Year except for the Southwest, where they leveled off. 

While rises in some states post Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays may not be visible in the averages shown by the graph, overall the U.S. did not show a surge. According to Erin Bromage, a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth about the Christmas holiday in the U.S., “The surge on top of a surge that could have happened didn’t really happen.” 

For example, in California, the major surge in cases was happening throughout December, then, approximately two weeks after the New Year’s holiday when the surge would be expected from holiday gatherings, the case rates began to decline. On December 17, 2020 there were approximately 54, 000 new reported COVID-19 cases compared to 39,000 cases on January 15, 2021.

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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