Most public health officials have avoided weighing in on whether massive, nationwide anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests, occurring on the tail end of coronavirus-related lockdowns will contribute to a possible second peak of the virus.
Late last week, though, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, told WTOP in Washington, D.C., that the protests, which, in some cases, have involved tens of thousands of people and only minimal concern for anti-viral measures like social distancing, are a “perfect setup” for a COVID-19 resurgence.
“It is the perfect set-up for the spread of the virus in the sense of creating some blips which might turn into some surges,” Fauci said in the interview.
In an interview with the Sunday Times of London, Fauci added to his comments, telling media that he is now “concerned” that protests that don’t stress physical distance could put demonstrators in danger.
“As I sat in front of the TV and watched the screen go from Washington, D.C., to New York City, to Los Angeles, to Philadelphia, I got really concerned,” Fauci told the Sunday Times of London, per Fox News. “I was going, ‘Oh my goodness. I hope this doesn’t set us back a lot.’ [After] all of the work in trying to maintain the physical distance and doing all the things, I became very concerned that we might see a resurgence.”
Social distancing, Fauci added, is key to controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus, and while protesters do seem to be wearing masks, they do not appear to be making an effort to ensure six feet of space between individuals. Yelling and chanting during demonstrations also put individuals at risk of spreading the virus, as does the mix of protesters.
“The protests bring together people from different areas, many of them virus hotspots, Fauci said,” per Fox. “The participants then return home and create a ‘perfect recipe’ for a resurgence of the virus.”
“I get very concerned, as do my colleagues in public health when they see these kinds of crowds,” Fauci said. “There certainly is a risk. I can say that with confidence.”
“It’s a difficult situation. We have the right to peacefully demonstrate and the demonstrators are exercising that right,” he added. “It’s a delicate balance because the reasons for demonstrating are valid and yet the demonstration itself puts oneself at additional risk.”
Fauci’s statements are markedly different from those made by other public health officials, including around 1,200 “experts” who signed a letter issued last week approving protests amid the pandemic.
As The Daily Wire reported, those “public health experts” drew distinctions between the anti-racism and anti-lockdown protests, approving of the former and disapproving of the latter because “white supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19.”
Although early reports from several states that have loosened lockdown measures were promising — showing either no or limited spikes in virus numbers — recent reports from Los Angeles, California, seem to indicate that a second peak is possible, according to ABC News, and that a second peak could result from widespread protests.
“As of May 31, the portion of Los Angelenos testing positive for the virus was hovering at around 4%, according to Curative’s data, which offers a roughly representative snapshot of the county as a whole,” ABC reported Sunday. “But the portion of positive tests began climbing on June 1, up to 6% by June 2 and jumping again to 8.7% by June 3. Although experts agree there’s a two-week lag to see the true impact of social movement on infection rates, the Curative data may offer an early glimpse at what’s happening in Los Angeles.”
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