It’s amazing how fast the threat of global pandemic receded in the headlines amid the raging George Floyd protests, also as multiple American cities are on fire.
The same cities which spent over the last two months on lockdown and social distancing orders, are now seeing throngs of tens of thousands congregate, often in close-quarter stand-offs with police. One has to wonder about what all of this will do in terms of “flattening the curve”.
The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, addressed this, warning 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,” she added.
And last week Minneapolis health commissioner warned protestors that the large-scale gatherings and crowd riot behavior will “very predictably accelerate the spread.”
With 1.7 million Americans having tested positive, including over US 100,000 deaths, Axios observes, “A potential surge in cases stemming from the protests would come as many states are weeks into their phased reopening plans.”
Coronavirus fears amid large-scale protests are also a global concern, for example with the latest flare-up of tensions and clashes with police in Hong Kong.
Civil unrest in the United States over repeated racial injustice is raising fears of new coronavirus outbreaks in a country that has seen more infections and deaths than anywhere else in the world.https://t.co/EA4Ncasne0
— WISH-TV (@WISH_TV) May 31, 2020
As the AP reports:
As emergency orders are lifted and beaches and businesses reopen, add protests to the list of concerns about a possible second wave of coronavirus outbreaks. It’s also an issue from Paris to Hong Kong, where anti-government protesters accuse police of using social distancing rules to break up their rallies.
Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus who have no symptoms could unwittingly infect others at gatherings with people packed cheek to jowl and cheering and jeering, many without masks.
Some cities are leveraging the coronavirus public safety factor as a way to limit protest gathering sizes in public places: “When Los Angeles officials announced the reopening of stores last week, they said political protests could resume but with a cap of 100 people,” AP notes.
The supreme irony is that just as stores re-open, many of the same are getting burned to the ground.