COVID-19 and the Protests

The worry has been expressed by many that the nationwide protests against police brutality and racism may ignite an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Health Officials Fear Widespread Protests Could Lead To New Coronavirus Outbreaks In Colorado

Protests could cause catastrophic setback for controlling coronavirus, experts say

It may be surprising to some that a group of public health professionals have endorsed the protests.

Public Health Experts Say the Pandemic Is Exactly Why Protests Must Continue

The group links racism and COVID-19, pointing out the great health disparities in this land that have made minorities far more susceptible to the virus that the general population.

They write: “as public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States. We can show that support by facilitating safest protesting practices without detracting from demonstrators’ ability to gather and demand change.”

Their letter includes a detailed list of ways to allow the protests to continue while mitigating the risks.

These include:

  • Advocate that protesters not be arrested or held in confined spaces, including jails or police vans, which are some of the highest-risk areas for COVID-19 transmission.
  •  Oppose any use of tear gas, smoke, or other respiratory irritants, which could increase risk for COVID- 19 by making the respiratory tract more susceptible to infection, exacerbating existing inflammation, and inducing coughing.

And:

Support the health of protesters by encouraging the following:

○ Use of face coverings.

○ Distance of at least 6 feet between protesters, where possible.

○ Demonstrating consistently alongside close contacts and moving together as a group, rather than extensively intermingling with multiple groups.

○ Staying at home when sick, and using other platforms to oppose racism for high-risk individuals, and those unable or uncomfortable to attend in person.

I encourage everyone to read the group’s letter:

Open letter advocating for an anti-racist public health response to demonstrations against systemic injustice occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic

 

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