SANTA MONICA, WEST HOLLYWOOD—The protests that were sparked over police brutality against African Americans have raised health concerns about the second potential mass spreading of COVID-19. L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger told KTLA on Sunday May 31 in regards to the crowds assembling in Santa Monica, “we could be back to square one in three weeks.”
The issue with gathering in large groups is not only safety and damages, but also the increased threat of COVID-19 infection due to people being in such close proximity. Experts have agreed that social distancing is what will curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The social distancing ordinance became harder to abide by once the protests over the life of George Floyd began. Floyd, an African American man, was murdered by a white police officer in Minneapolis, which led to an eruption of protests in major cities across the United States.
The demonstrations that have occurred between May 29 and June 2 have potentially exposed thousands of individuals to closer contact with the virus.
California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order to combat the coronavirus on March 19. As a result of the government-mandated “safer at home” order, the state achieved stability for many weeks.
The protests in LA have not only caused many businesses to board up, but also led to the closing of COVID-19 testing sites. This means that those who come in contact with COVID-19 may not have testing as readily available for them as it once was. Dr. Sujatha Reddy from Atlanta told ‘ALIVE,’ “people who were in those large groups, it would be ideal if they could get tested for COVID-19.”
While the risk of transmitting the coronavirus is decreased in open air, that does not mean all the protestors outdoors are safe. Dr. Reddy also told WXIA, “People chanting and shouting and then add in potentially coughing and sneezing because of tear gas or pepper spray and I think we had a lot of risk for a potential spread for coronavirus.”
Not only are the demonstrators in protesting zones vulnerable for infection, but those arrested by the police are being placed in crowded indoor spaces.
Mayors, governors and health care officials urged demonstrators to stay home, and if they do go out, to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing.