May 31, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country

Protestors rally in Minneapolis on May 30.
Protestors rally in Minneapolis. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Health experts fear that massive protests against police brutality in major cities around the United States could result in new coronavirus outbreaks due to the close proximity of demonstrators, AP reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. has already recorded more confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths than any other country in the world. A potential surge in cases stemming from the protests would come as many states are weeks into their phased reopening plans.

What they're saying: The mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of cities shaken by recent protests, told demonstrators: “If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week. There is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers."

  • On Thursday, the Minneapolis health commissioner warned protestors to "be mindful of the risk" and said the large demonstrations the city has seen could “very predictably accelerate the spread.”
  • “We have two crises that are sandwiched on top of one other,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey added.
  • “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, told AP.

Between the lines: Though many protesters were wearing masks during demonstrations, it does not guarantee total protection against the virus.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that cloth masks help keep infected people from spreading the virus, but that they cannot fully protect wearers from contracting it, according to AP.

Go deeper: U.S. cities crack down on protesters

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