Infectious Disease

Counties with universities that participated in March Madness saw an increase in COVID-19

October 27, 2021

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Disclosure:
O’Donoghue claims to have received funding from Google.org outside of the work submitted.

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Counties with universities participating in the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament saw an increase in COVID-19 cases as of 8 days after the last participating game, according to data published on JAMA Network Open.

Ashley L. O’Donoghue, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, used New York Times data from January 28 through May 25 – 50 days before to 50 days after the tournament – to determine the daily COVID-19 infections in each county rate 100,000 residents.

O'Donoghue AL.  JAMA network open.  2021; doi: 10.1001 / jamanetworkopen.2021.30783.

O’Donoghue AL. JAMA network open. 2021; doi: 10.1001 / jamanetworkopen.2021.30783.

O’Donoghue used a difference-in-difference design to compare counties with universities in the tournament versus counties that did not have universities in the competition.

According to the study, the counties recorded an increase in COVID-19 cases of 13.4% (95% CI, 0.8% -25.9%) from 8 days after the last participation game. The increases continued and peaked on day 24 at 21.8% (95% CI, 6.4% – 37.3%).

“While many universities have decided to implement vaccination regulations, not all universities have decided,” O’Donoghue said in a press release. “This study closes an evidence gap on the risk of spreading COVID-19 through social gatherings among unvaccinated university students. This suggests that vaccinations, unvaccinated student surveillance tests, or other containment measures are still important in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in a university community.

References:

March Madness: Researchers are seeing a temporary spike in COVID-19 cases in counties where universities participated in the NCA tournament. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/932385. Published east. Accessed Oct. 25, 2021. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021.

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