U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said to expect new outbreaks of the coronavirus resulting from the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd that have seen thousands of people gather in close proximity.
While a majority of protesters nationwide have worn masks and face coverings as they demand justice for Floyd, a black man who died last week while in police custody, the large crowds have made it difficult to social distance. The coronavirus pandemic has also disproportionately affected communities of color, an issue Adams has highlighted.
“I remain concerned about the public health consequences both of individual and institutional racism [and] people out protesting in a way that is harmful to themselves and to their communities,” Adams told Politico in an interview published Monday.
“Based on the way the disease spreads, there is every reason to expect that we will see new clusters and potentially new outbreaks moving forward,” he added.
Adams is the latest government leader to express concern over whether the protests could spread coronavirus, as he and other health groups are caught in a balancing act of trying to advise Americans during a pandemic and raise awareness of how racism puts the black community’s health at risk.
“You understand the anger, you hope that we can find ways that really can help people channel their anger into meaningful steps forward,” Adams told Politico.
“There is going to be a lot to do after this, even to try and get the communities of color back to where they need to be for people to be able to recover from COVID, and for people to be able to recover from the shutdown and to be able to prosper.