Protests over the weekend could bring about new hot spots of COVID infection


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Turbulent protests over the weekend as people gathered to speak out against police brutality following the death of George Floyd in police custody. Many went without masks and no social distancing during these protests. In the midst of a pandemic, Yale health experts say that’s dangerous.

“This is happening at a difficult time for us with concerns around person to person, potential person to person transmission of COVID between individuals,” says infectious disease specialist with Yale Medicine, Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu.

He goes onto say, “I think, like everyone else when you watch those videos it was very concerning to see a lot of people in some places coming together and not maintaining six-foot distance and not using recommended face masks. Raising their voices, speaking loudly, which is the perfect way to expel respiratory excretions that can contribute to disease transmission.”

It would not be surprising he says, to see a higher rate of COVID-19 infections in these areas, “Yes, I think most public health experts and the medical community would be concerned that those would serve as focal points.”

Super-spreader events like these protests can feed into a mathematical model designed by Yale School of Public Health.

Dr. Ogbuagu, explains, “Models are valuable tools to estimate based on available current evidence on what numbers will be.”

Research already suggests significantly more COVID cases in a faster reopening– compared to a gradual one.

“What’s really worrisome,” says Dr. Ogbuagu, “From their projections is that if the pace of reopening is very fast, which means more people in contact with each other, there’s a potential there to overwhelm the healthcare system just by the sheer volumes of new infections.”

And with more businesses reopening in Connecticut, Dr. Ogbuagu says it’s imperative that we continue to social distance, wear masks, wash hands, and avoid touching our face.

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