Mayor to Protesters: 'Get a COVID Test'

Health experts fear silent carriers of virus who are packed 'cheek to jowl'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 31, 2020 12:44 PM CDT
Protests Raise a Fear: New Virus Outbreaks
Protesters and National Guardsmen face off on East Lake Street, Friday, May 29, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of US cities hit by massive protests, has a message for demonstrators: "If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week." As more beaches, churches, mosques, schools, and businesses reopened worldwide, civil unrest in the US over repeated racial injustice (like George Floyd's death) is raising fears of new coronavirus outbreaks in a country that has more infections and deaths than anywhere else in the world. And it's not just in the US—London hosted a large anti-racism protest Sunday that certainly violated government social distancing rules. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms warned that "there is still a pandemic in America that's killing black and brown people at higher numbers."

"We have two crises that are sandwiched on top of one other," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said. Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus could unwittingly infect others at protests where people are packed cheek to jowl, many without masks, many chanting, singing or shouting. The virus is dispersed by microscopic droplets in the air when people cough, sneeze, sing, or talk. "Whether they’re fired up or not, that doesn't prevent them from getting the virus," said Bradley Pollock, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis. The US has seen over 1.7 million infections and nearly 104,000 deaths in the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected racial minorities in a nation that does not have universal health care. (See why blacks "have been living in a burning building for years.")

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