Health Officials Warn Protesters to Quarantine Due to Coronavirus Risks

Health officials are urging people marching for justice in the death of George Floyd to get tested for the coronavirus and quarantine for 14 days amid the pandemic if they have attended a protest in recent days. Meanwhile, a study showed that standing even 3 feet away from other people can lower your risk of transmitting COVID-19, but that more distance is better.

In Chicago, health officials urged anyone who attended a protest or gather to self-quarantine for 14 days if possible, warning residents that the pandemic is not over — even if it's not top of mind. "While we continue to make progress, I am concerned we may see ourselves take a step backward down the line against COVID-19," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Monday, NBC Chicago reports. "That's because COVID-19 is caused by a virus, and that virus doesn't care about what's going on in the city," she continued, adding that the disease "still takes every opportunity it can to spread."

Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's Institute for Global Health, told the Chicago Sun-Times that protests in the city potentially exposed hundreds, if not thousands, of people to the coronavirus. "The threat is real and serious," Murphy said, adding that how big that threat could be is "all a big guess." He added that the number of new infections could "hundreds most likely, but then you have to add who they infected, so that number would be thousands."

Good Morning America reported Tuesday that a study in the journal Lancet shows that a distance of 3 feet away from someone can help lower the risk of transmitting COVID-19, but that a 10-foot distance may cut that risk in half. The study also found that the risk of transmitting the disease is while wearing a face mask is 3 percent, as opposed to 17 percent while not wearing one.

ABC News reporter Steve Osunsami said that health authorities "are warning protesters filling streets across the country, saying that the coronavirus is probably marching with them." In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Bottoms encouraged protesters to get tested this week.


"Doctors believe we're likely to see more cases in 2 weeks connected to the protest," Osunsami added. ABC News contributor Dr. Simone Wildess said it's likely officials will see "more hotspots" because of large crowds and closed settings in protests. "And some people that are out might be actually carrying the disease," Wildess added, referring to asymptomatic carriers.

Floyd died on Monday, May 25 while in Minneapolis Police custody. Video of the arrest showed arresting officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd's neck with his knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Two other officers also knelt on Floyd's body, despite him pleading for air and telling the officers he could not breathe. A fourth officer stood by during the incident, which occurred on a crowded street. At press time, Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers, though fired from their positions at the police department, have not been charged in the incident.