Public Health says coronavirus concerns raised after hundreds show up for protests

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Hundreds of people gathered over the weekend in Dayton to protest the death of George Floyd. But it comes in the midst of a pandemic when group gatherings are discouraged.

Public Health-Dayton and Montgomery County officials said seeing pictures and video from over the weekend, many coronavirus safety recommendations went out the window. Many people weren’t social distancing or wearing masks.

John Steele with Public Health said there is some concern that this could set off a second wave.

“In the protests, you know people are going to be shouting, singing, expressing their opinions and so that’s one of the primary ways that the coronavirus is transmitted is through respiratory droplets so that’s also a big concern,” said Steele.

Mayor Nan Whaley attended Saturday afternoon’s peaceful protest and she said she saw more masks and social distancing at that rally than she had seen at any, even on TV.

But she reminds that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic and huge groups are still discouraged.

“We really encourage people to stay home just because that’s the way to keep you the most safe,” said Whaley. “There will be other actions that we can make that will be real systemic change that are further than protesting, and I think that’s where the real work begins and where we want to see people really digging in.”

Steele said if there is an uptick in cases they will heavily investigate any link to the protests. But he said the contact tracing would be the same as it would be if they noticed an outbreak linked to any public place.

“In that sense there could be a general message to the people that attended the event, but in general it would just be still contacting those individuals that were close to and associated with the person that had a positive test,” said Steele.

Steele said their message to the protest attendees are the same for anyone who enters public. If you feel symptoms, immediately self-quarantine and contact your healthcare provider to get tested.

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