Health Experts Debate Protests during a Pandemic

Carl Bergstrom writes, “Many people have asked me whether the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests around the country pose a risk of increasing coronavirus spread. As a scientist, I acknowledge that they may. As a citizen, I wholeheartedly support the protests nonetheless.” He worries that police use of tear gas “exacerbate matters substantially.” He adds, “Especially in areas without aggressive police responses, I do not expect a greater burst of COVID transmission due to protest than due to reopening activity.”

Eric Feigl-Ding writes, “I’m nervous about such big rallies during pandemic. . . . Definitely wear masks, but they are not fool proof. But I’ve [been] incredibly torn. BLM is an important movement to support.” He worries that U.S. cases have been increasing. He continues, “As public health scientists, we would lose the moral high ground of science if we conveniently dismiss dangers of these high human density & high vocal shouting in these rallies, all while previously telling people you can’t see your family on their death beds or funerals.”

Tom Frieden writes, “Some very large, densely packed crowds at protests yesterday. Although outdoors WAY less risky than indoors, and although the vast majority of people protesting wore masks, crowding and large numbers increase risk of spread.”

Trevor Bedfor writes, “There is no doubt that mass gatherings facilitate transmission. This study investigates seroprevalence in Gangelt, Germany, finding a 2.5X increase in rate of infection of those attending carnival celebrations. . . . Wearing masks and protesting outdoors has to help, but shouting, tear gas, pepper spray and closely packed jails will increase transmission potential.”

Jonah Goldberg refers to “the treason of epidemiologists,” which is rather much, and which doesn’t account for various relevant views.

Meanwhile, let’s remember Bill de Blasio’s April 28 Tweet: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.” The “period” has been changed to a “comma, but.”

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.