Protesters flooding streets across America are putting themselves at risk of catching the coronavirus — and likely exacerbating its ongoing spread, officials have warned.
“If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms warned those taking to the streets in her city.
Bottoms was one of many to note the dangers of thousands suddenly ignoring any form of lockdown or social distancing to protest George Floyd’s caught-on-camera death in police custody.
She stressed that “there is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers.”
Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus who have no symptoms could unwittingly infect others at protests where people are packed cheek to jowl, many without masks.
Even those with masks are not guaranteed protection, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying cloth masks are more for stopping infected people spreading the virus than protecting the wearer.
“Whether they’re fired up or not, that doesn’t prevent them from getting the virus,” warned Bradley Pollock, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis.
The protests are almost certainly going to fuel infections and damage efforts to contain the pandemic through lockdowns and tightly organized social distancing, Minnesota’s health commissioner warned.
“We have two crises that are sandwiched on top of one other,” said Jacob Frey, the mayor of Minneapolis where Floyd died during the Memorial Day arrest.
The ongoing protests come as the US has seen more than 1.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases with 103,781 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
With Post wires
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