Protesters are at risk of spreading COVID-19. Lockdown restrictions have been lifted as people fight racial injustices.

Pandemic Protests

Hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. turned out to protest racial injustice. 

In Washington, D.C., an estimated crowd of 100,000+ marched. The scale of these protests are remarkable. What people are also forgetting is that they are coming just a few weeks after not a single soul was allowed on city streets. 

Some public health experts expressed concern

Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday the protests are a "perfect set-up for the spread of the virus." And the director of the CDC told a House panel Thursday, “I do think there is a potential, unfortunately, for this to be a seeding event.” 

  • Experts also warn that police crowding arrested protesters and using tear gas (which makes people cough) could exacerbate the virus's spread.

Public health are saything that the risks of contracting COVID-19 during a protest are being outweighed by the strong urgency to solve a bigger societal problem: systematic racism. 

  • An open letter signed by almost 1,300 epidemiologists and public health experts states that "protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must be supported."
  • Signatories specified that their support of protests against racial injustice ≠ endorsement of other gatherings..."particularly protests against stay-home orders."

Many are calling it a flip-flop that diminishes the public trust in health officials. Health officials have been extremely adamant to stay at home, social distance, and take great precautions to stay healthy since the lockdown period began 3 months ago. 

Conservatives have been unhappy with health authorities on their changing stance. Small businesses were forced to close and some have permanently been shutdown because of the restrictions due to COVID-19. 

Looking forward: Time will tell in a few weeks whether there will be an increase in COVID-19 cases. As cities begin to ease restrictions, it may be difficult to track transmission from one specific event, whether it's a protest or a place like the Florida beaches.

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