America Protests Amid COVID 19- How To Ensure Safety?

People have taken to the streets of London, Berlin, Paris, and several other cities around the world to demonstrate in support of “Black Lives Matter” protests in America and to vent anger over President Donald Trump’s response to the killing of George Floyd by a member of the Minneapolis Police department, named Derek Chauvin.

What’s the cause of the Minneapolis riots?

As protesters take to the streets in dozens of cities in the United States and several other countries, to mourn the killing of George Floyd by one of the policemen belonging to the Minneapolis Police Department, to support the Minneapolis protests or riots in the United States and demand justice, many are wondering whether it’s possible to participate safely with the coronavirus pandemic still spreading and taking lives.

Georg Floyd was an unarmed black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly more than eight minutes as he told them “I can’t breathe”. This sparked protests all over the country and the other nations too.

 George Floyd moved to Minneapolis after being released from prison and he was known as a “gentle giant” who was trying to turn his life around. George Floyd was born in North Carolina and he lived in Houston, Texas, when he was younger but moved to Minneapolis several years ago to look for work, according to his lifelong friend, Christopher Harris.

protest for black lives matter movement in america amid covid 19

On social media platforms, there has been a lot of discussion of the unavoidable risks such as how protesters risk retaliation from police, risk violence at the hands of counter-protesters, and risk the coronavirus infection, which they could then spread to others, who might be more vulnerable and may fall seriously ill.

And many people have judged the protesters harshly for taking all of these risks. But wandering above it is the long history of police violence as a wretched public health crisis of its own.

Fears that the protests may lead to more coronavirus infections, and set the United States back further in its fight against the virus, are understandable. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN she was particularly worried that the protests might fan outbreaks in communities of colour already disproportionately impacted by the virus. “I’m extremely concerned we are seeing mass gatherings,” Bottoms said. “We’re going to see the other side of this in a couple of weeks.”

Coronavirus precautions during protests:

One significant reason the gatherings may be risky is that it can be very hard, if not impossible, to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from people in a large group of people. Some health departments and centres are still urging people to take the following precautions if they are planning to go for the protests. Here are tips to reduce the risk of the spreading of coronavirus infection:

  • Wear a face covering or a face mask.
  • Wear eye protection such as goggles to prevent injury.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Keep using hand sanitizer
  • Don’t yell, use signs and noisemakers instead.
  • Stick to a small group
  • Maintain a 6 feet distance from other groups and be as far as possible from other people.

The good news, according to the doctors and epidemiologists, is that there are many ways, other than wearing a mask, to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus or being infected in the streets while exercising your right to protest. The risk would definitely not be zero, but protesters could minimize harm to others and themselves.


Coronavirus precautions:

The general precautions that you are supposed to take to protect yourself from the novel coronavirus are:

  • Wash your hands often with water and soap or hand wash for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If water and soap are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with water and soap if you find your hands dirty.
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, rather than into your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.

So what should you bring to a protest?

Eleanor Murray, an epidemiologist at Boston University, summed up the things that you must bring with yourself if you’re planning to join the protest.

Harm reduction for protests in a pandemic:

wear your mask, come with eye protection like goggles, and heat resistant gloves.

  • yelling could spread droplets, choose signs, either drums, or similar noise makers and avoid shouting.
  • stick with a buddy group to keep your unknown contacts low.
  • carry water, hand sanitizer and some bandages just in case of any minor injuries.

 As they’ve disseminated this advice, Murray and several other health officials and experts have been accused of hypocrisy, for condemning the anti-lockdown protests of April and early May as a coronavirus risk, but not doing the same for the police violence protests. Murray clarified her position tweeting that she condemned the anti-lockdown protests, and she supports the  protests. She even said that these aren’t contradictory views and coronavirus is a public health emergency, so is racism.

Other health officials and experts have been providing additional helpful advice for the protesters, who may be exposed to pepper spray and rubber bullets in confrontations with police. To protect the eyes from rubber bullets, protections like umbrellas, face shields, safety glasses, and goggles are recommended. Meanwhile, some protesters involved in the Minneapolis riots or protests are reminding each other that they must stay home if they feel ill or have a fever or any other symptoms of coronavirus, helping to reduce the risk of spread for everyone.


Tags: Coronavirus symptoms, Coronavirus news, Coronavirus precautions

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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.