While the protest movement following the death of George Floyd is growing across the Atlantic, the New york times wonders about the epidemic risks linked to the demonstrations. Some scientists believe that this situation could lead to a significant increase in the spread of the coronavirus.
A worldwide ban on public gatherings was one of the first steps to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Indeed, the difficulty in respecting social distancing during demonstrations obviously creates a situation conducive to contamination. This is why, while tensions have not subsided in the United States since the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, many American political leaders have “Urged protesters to wear and mask and respect social distancing”, indicated The New York Times. In order to clarify the situation further, the American daily interviewed various scientists, who tried to assess the health risks linked to the current social movement. A movement that invests in many states “Where a very careful deconfinement has just started”.
Before giving the floor to the experts, the New york times remember that “African-Americans have been hit very hard by the coronavirus”. Proof of this is, “The percentages relative to the number of people hospitalized and died because of Covid-19 are much higher among blacks than among whites”. An important statistic, since a good part of the people who protest today in many American cities come from the African-American community.
One of the reassuring data compared to the demonstrations in progress is that they are held outside, points doctor William Schaffner on the columns of New york times. “The outside air dilutes the virus and reduces its” dose “, which is even more true when the wind blowssaid the infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, who nevertheless noted a problem. “In some demonstrations there have been a lot of races, which means that people have expired and inspired more deeply.” An additional risk factor for people who have participated in the most “hectic” initiatives.
“It’s no coincidence that baseball games are banned”
For his part, Dr. Howard Markel – also interviewed by the American daily – is more worried:
Yes, the protesters are outside, but they are very close to each other, and in these cases being outside does not protect you as much. Public gatherings are public gatherings. It’s no coincidence that big baseball games are no longer allowed. ”
Also a historian, Howard Markel, draws an interesting parallel in this sense with the Spanish flu. In 1918, he said, the parades that were organized in American cities were often followed by peaks of contamination.
“Slogans shouted during demonstrations can increase the risk involved”, explains in this regard the New york times, which recalls that “The coronavirus is largely transmitted by droplets that spread when people speak, cough, or sneeze.”
Another factor to take into account, the current social movement gave life to demonstrations under high tension, which sometimes degenerated into riots. This creates additional risks for various reasons, explains the New York daily:
The tear gas and pepper spray used by law enforcement to disperse the crowd causes people to cry and cough more, which increases the risk. Furthermore, efforts to converge crowds towards narrower areas can have the effect of bringing people even closer to each other. ”
“Coronavirus’s secret weapon”
In such circumstances, “People feel lost, says Howard Markel, and they can’t figure out if they’re close to someone wearing a mask or not. ”
In addition, note the New york times, “The arrest, transportation or imprisonment of protesters also increases the potential for the virus to spread.”
All of these risk factors are finally multiplied by the one that daily life considers “The coronavirus secret weapon”, to know :
the fact that it can be transmitted by people who have no symptoms and therefore feel fit enough to participate in the protests. “
“The ongoing dispute will create new chains of contamination”
Ultimately, it is difficult to know whether the ongoing dispute will lead to a significant increase in cases of contamination. The possible negative effects could be seen much further in time, since the participants – mainly young people – may not show symptoms, but subsequently infect their parents.
Nevertheless, for Doctor Scott Gottlieb – whose remarks are relayed by the New york times – no possible doubt:
The ongoing dispute will give life to new chains of contamination. ”
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