Dr. John, Esq. is both an attorney and a physician. Before obtaining his law degree, Dr. John Naranja practiced for approximately 12 years as an orthopedic surgeon.
As the intensity and frequency of protests surrounding the death of George Floyd grow, what effect will result with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Although no numbers are currently available, some insight may be obtained by examining data from states where restrictions from COVID-19 have been loosened or eliminated. Restrictions of concern include stay-at-home orders, physical distancing, and mask use.
The Centers for Disease Control suggest that we will not likely see any effects until approximately 2 weeks has passed from the time that a particular restriction is lifted to the time of a COVID-19 infection effect is noted.
Wisconsin may be a model state to review as it is one of the states that abruptly lifted its restrictions on May 13, 2020, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the Governor’s Stay-At-Home order. Wisconsin subsequently observed many of its public establishments filled with maskless people, less than 6 feet apart. After the two-week time frame elapsed, Wisconsin saw a spike in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Other states have seen similar effects. For example, in Arkansas, where no stay-at-home order was executed, the COVID-19 infection rate has been steadily rising. In California, there has been a 25% increase in cases. In Kentucky, where protesters marched to remove their state’s lockdown restrictions but ignored physical distancing measures, a spike of COVID cases was also reported.
One infectious disease physician from Johns Hopkins advises that from a public health perspective, “mass gatherings are always going to be a concern when it comes to the spread of viruses like [COVID-19].” The virus does not distinguish the reason for a mass gathering. It can use the opportunity to infect no matter what the circumstance.