While local governments and law enforcement bodies struggle to maintain order during unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd during an encounter with police in Minneapolis, public health officials are expressing a secondary concern: that the volume of citizens and police officers interacting in such close proximity could beget a second wave of COVID-19 infections. While photos and television coverage show most protestors and police officers wearing masks, the fact remains that doing so does not guarantee the wearer is safe from transmission. The risk goes up if the mask comes off, as is likely to happen when confrontations turn violent. Urgent care providers who practice in areas that have seen widespread public protests should consider asking patients who seek COVID-19 testing, or who present with symptoms, if they’ve been around large groups of people and, if so, if they wore a mask during those encounters. Reporting any relevant findings to your local health authorities could help in contact tracing efforts.
U.S. Streets Are Exploding in Protest and Violence; Could This Usher in a Second Wave of COVID-19?