Jun 2, 2020 - Health

Protests against police brutality threaten coronavirus response

Protesters in Philadelphia on June 1.

Protesters in Philadelphia on June 1. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Protests against police brutality have prompted the closure of coronavirus test sites across the country, including in Pennsylvania, Florida, California and Illinois, Politico reports.

Why it matters: This adds to concerns that the protests themselves create an environment in which the virus can easily spread, particularly if and when protesters aren't wearing masks or social distancing.

  • If the virus does spread through a crowd of protesters, it will probably be impossible to trace who a particular case came into contact with.
  • And attendees may not want to share information about their movements with contact tracers anyways, Politico notes.

What they're saying: "We spent all this time closing down, locked down, masks, social distancing and then we turn on the television and you see mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people after everything we've done," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday.

  • Some government and health officials are encouraging protesters to get tested for the coronavirus.

The other side: "Racism is a social determinant of health. It affects the physical and mental health of blacks in the U.S. So I wouldn't weigh these crises separately," Elaine Nsoesie, an assistant professor of global health at Boston University, told NPR.

Go deeper: Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country

Go deeper