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Will recent protests lead to an outbreak or second wave of infections?

Update

Large gatherings of people in close contact for a prolonged period of time does increase risk for transmission of respiratory viruses. Outdoor protests allow for natural ventilation, and the additional use of masks, eye protection, and social distancing efforts can help reduce risk. While it is unknown if protests will lead to a large increase in the number of cases, it is possible there will be additional cases in the 2 weeks following protests.

This article was published on
June 19, 2020

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What our experts say

Large gatherings of people in close contact for a prolonged period of time does increase risk for transmission of respiratory viruses. Outdoor protests allow for natural ventilation, and the additional use of masks, eye protection, and social distancing efforts can help reduce risk. While it is unknown if protests will lead to a large increase in the number of cases, it is possible there will be additional cases in the 2 weeks following protests.

Context and background

Respiratory viruses are primarily spread through infectious respiratory droplets (coughing, sneezing, and sometimes talking). Close contact (within 6 feet/2 meters) for a prolonged period of time (15 minutes or more) without respiratory protection is considered an exposure risk for COVID-19. While we don't know what the number of cases related to large gatherings, like the recent protests, will look like, it is likely that there will be some. Protestors are encouraged to not only utilize infection prevention measures, but also quarantine at home for 14 days after protesting.

Resources

  1. The Protests will spread the coronavirus (The Atlantic)
  2. The Respiratory Health Risks of Large Crowds (AATS)
  3. How to Protect Yourself & Others (U.S. CDC)

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