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Health officials: Protests can pose coronavirus risk

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-02 09:52:44-04

LANSING, Mich. — The protests around the country may bring about the kind of change nobody wants to see--it could be raising the risk of spreading COVID-19.

As Michigan's COVID-19 cases rise, so do crowds, protesting police brutality following the death of George Floyd, where social distancing can be limiting.

"If you are in a group of people, whether that be at a protest, or at a family event, where not everyone is social distancing, you never know the health of people in a large crowd," James Richard, the Sparrow Lab Medical Director.

State health officials say protests could lead to risks of infection for both participants and authorities.

"I saw a mixed-use of masks, I saw a lot but I also saw there were people without, so those are some of the things that do put you at risk," said Linda Vail, Ingham County Health Officer

Like in rallies Michigan has seen before in regards to the stay at home order, state health officials urge those who were at the recent protests to monitor their health before getting tested.

"The incubation period for this virus can be up to 14 days, typically five, so I would wait around seven to 10 days to get tested as a direct result of going to a large event," said Vail.

However, if you do start showing symptoms before, Vail says you should get tested immediately.

"Yes, then we encourage testing before that."

While Sparrow says they are preparing for an increase in both COVID and antibody testing amid the protests....

"How much, we can't really say," said Richard.

The health department is keeping an eye on a potential spike in cases."

"It creates some concern for an uptick in activity and that was the case in the other protests as well so we will have to see if that becomes a problem now," said Vail.

The health officials say they are not discouraging current or future protests, however, they do advise those going out...to wear a mask...wash their hands...keep a distance as much as possible... and to avoid touching their face.

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