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. [Continue reading…]