With so many people congregating in cities to protest the fate of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the CDC is fearful there may be victims of another kind: If you’ve been to a protest, the agency recommends you get tested for COVID-19.
Robert R. Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said so during a House Appropriations hearing on Thursday: if you participated in a protest, you should “highly consider” getting tested.
The Protests Could be a “Seeding Event”
“I do think there is a potential, unfortunately, for this to be a seeding event,” Dr. Redfield said during Thursday’s hearing on the coronavirus response. Many of the protests have been in major cities, where the virus transmits faster. Redfield recommended those who have attended get tested within 3 to 7 days—the incubation period of the virus—and tell loved ones they were out in public.
During the hearing, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) asked about the impact of tear gas on protestors and whether it should continue, since it leads to coughing. “Definitely, coughing can spread respiratory viruses, including Covid-19,” Redfield said, adding that: “I think you raised an important point we have advocated strongly—the ability to have face coverings and masks available to protesters, so that they can at least have those coverings,” he said. He promised to “pass this comment to the next Task Force meeting.”
Not Enough People Following Guidelines
Overall, the agency is concerned not enough Americans are following its guidelines, which include:
“Wash your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home. If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
- Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home.
Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
- Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
Cover coughs and sneezes
- If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
Monitor your health
- Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.”
Redfield says he’s seen people walking around Washington D.C. without a mask. “We will continue to message as well we can,” said Redfield. “We’re going to encourage people that have the ability to require to wear masks when they are in their environment to continue to do that.”
As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.