Massive protests across US raise fears of new virus outbreaks


The latest: There have been more than 1.7 million coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.The U.S. death toll has surpassed 103,000 people, according to Hopkins.President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would pull out of the World Health Organization after criticizing the group’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and relationship with China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will resume its regular briefings as the administration continues its coronavirus response, CNN reported.The mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of U.S. cities hit by massive protests in recent days, has a message for demonstrators: “If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week.”As emergency orders are lifted and beaches and businesses reopen, add protests to the list of concerns about a possible second wave of coronavirus outbreaks. It’s also an issue from Paris to Hong Kong, where anti-government protesters accuse police of using social distancing rules to break up their rallies.Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus who have no symptoms could unwittingly infect others at gatherings with people packed cheek to jowl and cheering and jeering, many without masks.”Whether they’re fired up or not that doesn’t prevent them from getting the virus,” said Bradley Pollock, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis.One Atlanta protester said she has no choice following the death last Monday of George Floyd, a black man, after a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed a knee into his neck. “It’s not OK that in the middle of a pandemic we have to be out here risking our lives,” Spence Ingram, a black woman, said after marching with other protesters to the state Capitol in Atlanta on Friday. “But I have to protest for my life and fight for my life all the time.”Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, in her warning Saturday evening, said “there is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers.” After another night of unrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said that many protesters wearing masks were simply trying to hide their identities and “cause confusion and take advantage of this situation.”The state’s health commissioner has warned that the protests are almost certain to fuel new cases of the virus. Minnesota reported 35 deaths on Thursday, a single-day high in the outbreak, and 29 more on Friday.”We have two crises that are sandwiched on top of one other,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said. The protests come at a time when many U.S. cities are beginning to relax stay-at-home orders. When Los Angeles officials announced the reopening of stores last week, they said political protests could resume but with a cap of 100 people.That didn’t stop several hundred people from showing up for a protest that shut down a freeway. Most wore masks, but many did not observe a buffer zone.Even for the many protesters who have been wearing masks, those don’t guarantee protection from the coronavirus.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cloth masks because they can make it more difficult for infected people to spread the virus — but they are not designed to protect the person wearing the mask from getting it.World Health Organization releases new guidance for mass gatheringsThe World Health Organization on Saturday released new guidance for mass gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic, recommending a number of possible changes to large events — once they’re allowed to take place.Holding gatherings outdoors, limiting attendance to healthy people and staggering arrivals could all help limit the spread of the virus, according to the guidance.“In the context of COVID-19, mass gatherings are events that could amplify the transmission of the virus and potentially disrupt the host country’s response capacity,” the guidance said. But it said large events offered benefits, too, such as providing employment and boosting psychological well-being.“Since mass gatherings have substantial political, cultural, social, and economic implications, authorities should assess the importance and necessity of an event and consider the option that it may take place, provided all associated public health risks are adequately addressed and mitigated,” the guidance said.The WHO called on public health authorities and event organizers to perform a risk assessment before any gathering and listed a number of steps organizers could take if large events do occur, such as staggering arrivals, increasing the frequency of transport, designating seating, venue capacity could also be adjusted and events could be held virtually or outdoors.Some recommendations focused on participants, reminding people to observe physical distancing, cough etiquette and hand hygiene practices.People at risk of developing severe illness – including those over the age of 65 or with pre-existing medical conditions – could be advised to stay away, or special arrangements could be made for them.The WHO recommendations included a number of other measures as well, such as limiting the duration of events and providing on-site isolation facilities for people who become sick.

The latest:

  • There have been more than 1.7 million coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
  • The U.S. death toll has surpassed 103,000 people, according to Hopkins.
  • President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would pull out of the World Health Organization after criticizing the group’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and relationship with China.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will resume its regular briefings as the administration continues its coronavirus response, CNN reported.

The mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of U.S. cities hit by massive protests in recent days, has a message for demonstrators: “If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week.”

As emergency orders are lifted and beaches and businesses reopen, add protests to the list of concerns about a possible second wave of coronavirus outbreaks. It’s also an issue from Paris to Hong Kong, where anti-government protesters accuse police of using social distancing rules to break up their rallies.

Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus who have no symptoms could unwittingly infect others at gatherings with people packed cheek to jowl and cheering and jeering, many without masks.

“Whether they’re fired up or not that doesn’t prevent them from getting the virus,” said Bradley Pollock, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis.

Protesters demonstrate against the the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis, Friday, May 29, 2020, in New York.

Mary Altaffer / AP Photo

Protesters demonstrate against the the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis, Friday, May 29, 2020, in New York.

One Atlanta protester said she has no choice following the death last Monday of George Floyd, a black man, after a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed a knee into his neck.

“It’s not OK that in the middle of a pandemic we have to be out here risking our lives,” Spence Ingram, a black woman, said after marching with other protesters to the state Capitol in Atlanta on Friday. “But I have to protest for my life and fight for my life all the time.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, in her warning Saturday evening, said “there is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers.”

After another night of unrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said that many protesters wearing masks were simply trying to hide their identities and “cause confusion and take advantage of this situation.”

The state’s health commissioner has warned that the protests are almost certain to fuel new cases of the virus. Minnesota reported 35 deaths on Thursday, a single-day high in the outbreak, and 29 more on Friday.

“We have two crises that are sandwiched on top of one other,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said.

The protests come at a time when many U.S. cities are beginning to relax stay-at-home orders. When Los Angeles officials announced the reopening of stores last week, they said political protests could resume but with a cap of 100 people.

That didn’t stop several hundred people from showing up for a protest that shut down a freeway. Most wore masks, but many did not observe a buffer zone.

Even for the many protesters who have been wearing masks, those don’t guarantee protection from the coronavirus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cloth masks because they can make it more difficult for infected people to spread the virus — but they are not designed to protect the person wearing the mask from getting it.

World Health Organization releases new guidance for mass gatherings

The World Health Organization on Saturday released new guidance for mass gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic, recommending a number of possible changes to large events — once they’re allowed to take place.

Holding gatherings outdoors, limiting attendance to healthy people and staggering arrivals could all help limit the spread of the virus, according to the guidance.

“In the context of COVID-19, mass gatherings are events that could amplify the transmission of the virus and potentially disrupt the host country’s response capacity,” the guidance said. But it said large events offered benefits, too, such as providing employment and boosting psychological well-being.

“Since mass gatherings have substantial political, cultural, social, and economic implications, authorities should assess the importance and necessity of an event and consider the option that it may take place, provided all associated public health risks are adequately addressed and mitigated,” the guidance said.

The WHO called on public health authorities and event organizers to perform a risk assessment before any gathering and listed a number of steps organizers could take if large events do occur, such as staggering arrivals, increasing the frequency of transport, designating seating, venue capacity could also be adjusted and events could be held virtually or outdoors.

Some recommendations focused on participants, reminding people to observe physical distancing, cough etiquette and hand hygiene practices.

People at risk of developing severe illness – including those over the age of 65 or with pre-existing medical conditions – could be advised to stay away, or special arrangements could be made for them.

The WHO recommendations included a number of other measures as well, such as limiting the duration of events and providing on-site isolation facilities for people who become sick.



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