What public health experts say about potential Covid-19 infections

Could the protests result in a second wave of Covid-19 infections? Protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police continued through the weekend in cities throughout the United States. As the New York Times reports, some public health experts worry that the gatherings of thousands of people could quickly spread the coronavirus. Already over 100,000 Americans have died, and those deaths have been disproportionately Black Americans. While some experts told the Times that the closeness of crowds raises concern, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, offered some optimism:

The outdoor air dilutes the virus and reduces the infectious dose that might be out there, and if there are breezes blowing, that further dilutes the virus in the air. There was literally a lot of running around, which means they’re exhaling more profoundly, but also passing each other very quickly.

The crowds also tend to be mostly young people.

Protesters have said in interviews that while they realize there’s a risk for infection, racism in America has been around for much longer than the virus, and requires immediate attention and personal risk. As Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said on Face the Nation on Sunday, “Stopping the pandemic is going to depend on our ability to take care of our most medically and socially vulnerable. We absolutely need to resolve these underlying problems to eliminate the risk of pandemic spreading of the epidemic.”

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