Short answer, in all likelihood, yes.
Courtesy of The Daily Beast:
The word “unprecedented” has been used ad nauseam in recent months, but when public health authorities tried on Sunday to predict the potentially catastrophic effect of nationwide police brutality protests amid a deadly pandemic, it seemed hard to find a suitable alternative.
After months of diligent social distancing to curb COVID-19 transmission, Americans in major cities all over the country took to the streets in huge crowds this week to protest the death of George Floyd—and decades of other black deaths at the hands of police officers—after the 46-year-old was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer who shoved a knee into his neck while he was handcuffed, face-down on the pavement.
Public health experts and city leaders now fear new waves of COVID-19 outbreaks could worsen infection numbers and deepen racial disparities among those severely sickened by the virus.
Protesters, reporters, and police officers were injured in the swelling demonstrations that led to curfews in more than 25 major metropolitan cities from Colorado and Tennessee to Florida and Kentucky and Ohio. The national guard was deployed in Minnesota, Georgia, and the cities of Chicago and Los Angeles.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms urged demonstrators in her city to seek COVID-19 tests after attending protests, especially considering the mounting evidence that the pandemic is “killing black and brown people at higher numbers.” Bottoms told CNN’s Jake Tapper, host of State of the Union, on Sunday morning that she is “extremely concerned” about COVID-19 spikes in the coming weeks.
Though many states continued to phase out of stay-at-home orders this month, nearly a dozen last week were experiencing increases of daily case counts for the deadly virus, which had infected more than 1,773,020 Americans and killed more than 103,853 as of Sunday morning.
Minnesota’s health commissioner and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey have both warned that the protests will likely create a spike in infections, sandwiching one crisis on top of another. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday said he worried that protesters were not adequately socially distancing or wearing masks during demonstrations.
“I will continue to stress, because it seems like a lifetime ago: We are still in the middle of a pandemic and passed 1,000 deaths yesterday,” said Walz. “We still have hospitals on the verge of being overrun with COVID-19.”
I have been watching these protests with a growing sense of dread.
Not only are some people a little sloppy with their mask-wearing, but they are also often in tightly packed groups and freely touching each other as if we are community transmission was not a thing.
What’s more, these protests are all over the country including in places that are still practicing social distancing and have done a relatively good job of controlling their outbreak.
There is a very good chance that all of that will now be erased, and that these communities will be overwhelmed with new cases that will tax their hospitals to the limit and send their communities right back into quarantine.
Don’t get me wrong I support protesting for social justice, but I am also hoping to see us get to the other side of this pandemic, and this is not doing anything to help that happen.