News and Commentary

Atlanta Mayor Who Joined Protests Tests Positive For Coronavirus
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks onstage during 2019 Beloved Benefit at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on March 21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has tested positive for COVID-19 despite having no symptoms.

The mayor announced her positive test result Monday evening on Twitter, writing, “COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.” She later added that the symptoms she and her husband experienced were similar to seasonal allergies.

Appearing on MSNBC, Bottoms said the positive test was a “shock.” CBS News reported the mayor said she only “decided to get tested because her husband had been sleeping more than usual.

“It leaves me for a loss of words because I think it really speaks to how contagious this virus is. We’ve taken all the precautions that you can possibly take. I have no idea when and where we were exposed,” Bottoms said on MSNBC.

Bottoms initially told violent rioters to “go home” and pleaded for peaceful protests at the end of May following the police-involved death of George Floyd.

“It’s enough,” Mayor Bottoms said during a press conference at the time. “We are all angry. This hurts. This hurts everybody in this room. But what are you changing by tearing up a city? You’ve lost all credibility now. This is not how we change America. This is not how we change the world.”

Bottoms later joined the Black Lives Matter marches – wearing a mask – but surrounded by thousands of people, many of whom were not wearing a mask. A photo of the mayor attending a protest – without wearing a mask – from a few weeks ago has been circulating social media.

CBS News, however, left out of its report any mention that Bottoms had attended the protests, as national media outlets continue to downplay the risk of contracting the coronavirus at protests.

NPR went so far as to claim “parties – not protests – are causing spikes in coronavirus.”

“We did have a rally in Bellingham, which is our county seat, and there was also a protest, and we have not been able to connect a single case to that rally or to the protest, and what we’re finding is in large part that’s due to the use of masks,” Erika Lautenbach, the director of the Whatcom County Health Department in Washington State, told NPR. “Almost everyone at the rally was wearing a mask, and it’s really a testament to how effective masks are in preventing the spread of this disease.”

It is unclear whether Washington actually asks people who are tested whether they attended any protests as part of the state’s contact tracing program. In New York City, coronavirus contact tracers are specifically told not to ask people if they attended protests, making it impossible to declare the protests spread the virus.

The New York Post reported that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio spokeswoman Avery Cohen told reporters that people will be asked if they were in large crowds, but not protests specifically.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe while respecting individual privacy,” Cohen said. “Over the course of their interview with a tracer, a person may be asked if they were in a large crowd or event in recent weeks, with full confidence that any information they share will be protected under the fullest extent of the law.”

She separately told The City that people won’t be asked if they attended any protests.

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