Public Health officials urge protesters to get tested for COVID-19

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Cases of COVID-19 are still rising in San Diego County and if some infectious disease experts are correct, the county could see another sharp rise in coming weeks, from the impact of mass protests that saw thousands of people marching in the streets.

Infectious disease experts said protesters, who walked shoulder to shoulder in solidarity, also put themselves at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control is recommending that people who participated in these mass demonstrations get tested for COVID-19.

Dr. Rebecca Fielding-Miller is an epidemiologist and professor at the UC San Diego School of Public Health.

She agreed with the recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that protesters should be tested for the novel coronavirus.

The demonstrators in the streets could not maintain the recommended 6-foot distance. Some wore face coverings, but others did not.

Dr. Fielding-Miller said singing, shouting and chanting are activities that result in more respiratory particles being released, which can project virus into the air.

She said exposure to tear gas, which causes people to cough, also elevates the risk of catching the virus.

Fielding-Miller said the practice of “kenneling” in which police confine protesters in a small area for crowd control can also raise the risk of disease transmission. She recommended that protesters who experienced those activities in particular should get tested for COVID-19.

Fielding-Miller said it’s possible we may see a rise in infections in a week or two, following the anti-racism protests that began about two weeks ago.

She cautioned that a possible increase in the rate of infections may not be due solely to the demonstrations and protests. The professor said the return of people to beaches, barbecues and other social gatherings may also contribute to a surge in infections.

The professor said law enforcement officers should also get tested. Both the state and county offer resources for testing.

To find a testing location, run by San Diego County, you can call 211. You can log onto the website, lhi.care/covidtesting to sign up for a test that’s administered by the state.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local San Diego News