Across the Bay Area, as the region battles the coronavirus pandemic, tens of thousands have taken to the streets in cities like Oakland, San Francisco and San Rafael to protest the killing of George Floyd and to demand systemic changes in policing.
Many Bay Area cities announced support for the right to protest injustice and encouraged people to stay safe by wearing masks and washing hands. But maintaining physical distance at some of the protests was virtually impossible, and health officials worried that marching crowds, protesters huddled together to listen to speeches, and throngs of demonstrators pressed up against police lines would lead to a surge in coronavirus transmissions.
But Bay Area health officials and experts say that while COVID-19 cases are rising, they see little indication — at least so far — that the protests are the cause.
“We investigate every reported COVID-19 case and try to elicit where they may have been exposed,” said Dr. Nick Moss, acting director of the Division of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention at the Alameda County Public Health Department. “This includes a specific question related to mass gatherings, including protests.”
Attending protests, Moss said, is “not emerging as a risk for the most recent cases that we're seeing in the county.”