Several thousand demonstrators gather in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, June 1, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.

Several thousand demonstrators gather in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, June 1, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. AP / Noah Berger

Protests Could Lead to Surge of Coronavirus Cases, Officials Say

Public health officials and lawmakers worry that COVID-19 could spread quickly through protest gatherings.

As thousands of Americans took to the streets over the weekend to protest the death of George Floyd in police custody, public health experts and elected officials worried that the multiple mass gatherings could lead to a surge of coronavirus cases at the moment the country is poised to begin reopening.

“There’s going to be a lot of issues coming out of what’s happened in the last week, but one of them is going to be that chains of transmission will have become lit from these gatherings,” former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday on Face the Nation“So this country isn't through this epidemic. This is continuing to expand but at a much slower rate. But it's still expanding and we still have pockets of spread in communities that aren't under good control.”

The protocols of protection during the coronavirus pandemic—maintain physical distance from other people, wear gloves and a face covering, wash your hands frequently, stay home when possible—have proven difficult to follow at crowded protests, where demonstrators have joined hands, gotten in close confrontations with police and shouted slogans. Public health experts have encouraged protesters to cover their faces and, when possible, stay 6 feet apart, though some acknowledged that advice would likely be impractical at most protests.

“We strongly encourage anybody who is out in the protests to wear a mask, practice proper hand hygiene and, to the extent possible, socially distance, though we know that’s not always going to be feasible,” Dr. Theodore long, head of New York City’s contact-tracing program, told the New York Times.

Related: Trump, GOP Allies Reach For Military Response To Domestic Protests

Related: ‘Reopen’ Protestors Are A Minority Whom Public-Health Experts Say Threaten the Majority

In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told protesters to get a Covid-19 test this week, saying at a news conference Saturday, “There is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers.” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock offered free Covid-19 tests for protesters, tweeting, “We are still in the middle of a pandemic and we want to protect our residents’ health.” On Sunday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told CNN there was “no question” that protests would lead to an increase in coronavirus cases, but that that problem was the “next step” for officials who are currently focusing on calming unrest and sometimes violent protests in their cities.

In other places, protests affected citizens’ ability to get tested. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti shut down the city’s testing centers Saturday afternoon, saying there were safety concerns related to protests across the area.

“We need to make sure, especially in communities that have less power, that we are able to make sure people don’t disproportionately die because of the color of their skin,” he said. “We can’t do that when the city breaks down.”

Other officials worried that the breakdown of trust in government would further hinder the country’s ability to move past the pandemic. A successful public health campaign relies heavily on citizens’ ability to believe and obey what government agencies are advocating, which may prove more difficult in some communities as protests over systemic racism continue to rage, said Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health.

“These events that are happening now are further threats to the trust we need,” Galea told the Associated Press. “If we do not have that, I worry our capacity to control new outbreaks becomes more limited.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.