Concerns loom over increased risk of COVID-19 spread at public rallies and protests

Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 5:27 PM CDT
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Social justice demonstrations span the country, with participants standing shoulder to shoulder. Infectious disease experts explore the risk of the potential spread of COVID-19.

"While these rallies are very important, there is still a pandemic," said Jennifer Kline, Ph.D., SwedishAmerican Infection Prevention Specialist.

With protests and rallies bringing thousands of people together, doctors say the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus can increase.

"If a person has COVID, be it symptomatic, pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, and they get that on somebody else, that's going to transmit the disease," said Dr. James Cole, SwedishAmerican Trauma Medical Director.

Infectious disease experts say following COVID protocols as much as possible can protect yourself as well as those around you.

"If you're out in public and you're not following infection prevention guidance, like wearing a face covering and distancing from people, then you're increasing the risk that you could transmit the virus to someone else unknowingly," said Kline.

Dr. Cole says everyone deserves the right to speak up, but he encourages people do it smartly and safely.

"I completely and totally understand and support people's desires to go out and protest, I would still recommend that they adhere to those basic tenets of how to prevent COVID, so as to not further exacerbate the pain and suffering that people have been dealing, not only with COVID, but from this tragic occurrence and this ongoing problem that we've been having, as evidenced in Minnesota," said Dr. Cole.

If you choose to participate in the demonstrations, both Kline and Dr. Cole recommend keeping an eye on your symptoms and if you don't feel well, stay home.