Protests Raise Fears of New Outbreaks 05/31 09:25
The mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of U.S. cities hit by massive protests
in recent days, has a message for demonstrators: "If you were out protesting
last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week."
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of U.S. cities hit
by massive protests in recent days, has a message for demonstrators: "If you
were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this
As more beaches, churches, schools and businesses reopened worldwide, civil
unrest in the United States over repeated racial injustice is raising fears of
new coronavirus outbreaks in a country that has seen more infections and deaths
than anywhere else in the world.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms warned that "there is still a pandemic in
America that's killing black and brown people at higher numbers."
Violent protests over the death of George Floyd have shaken the country from
New York City to Minneapolis, from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Some protests have
turned into riots and clashes with police, leaving stores burned and torched
cars in the streets. City officials have ordered overnight curfews to quell the
Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police
officer pressed a knee into his neck. It was the latest in a series of deaths
of black men and women at the hands of police in America.
Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus who have no symptoms
could unwittingly infect others at protests where people are packed cheek to
jowl, many without masks.
"Whether they're fired up or not, that doesn't prevent them from getting the
virus," said Bradley Pollock, chairman of the Department of Public Health
Sciences at the University of California, Davis.
The U.S. has seen over 1.7 million infections and nearly 104,000 deaths in
the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected racial minorities in a
nation that does not have universal health care.
The Minnesota health commissioner warned that the protests are almost
certain to fuel new infections.
"We have two crises that are sandwiched on top of one other," Minneapolis
Mayor Jacob Frey said.
Even for the many protesters wearing masks, those don't guarantee
protection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cloth
masks keep infected people from spreading the virus but are not designed to
protect wearers from getting it.
On Sunday, many Americans were returning to in-person church services for
the first time in many weeks as some emergency measures are lifted and mosques
reopened across the Middle East, but in countries from India to Colombia the
number of new infection was still on the rise.
In Europe, unions in Paris flouted a ban on large gatherings Saturday to
protest the dire conditions facing workers in the country illegally. Police
used tear gas to disperse the crowds and said they had banned the march due to
Hong Kong police have used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to
break up protests in recent weeks. A ban on gatherings of more than eight
people has been extended to June 4, the day of an annual candlelight vigil to
mark the Chinese military's 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in
Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
More than 6 million infections have been reported worldwide, with nearly
370,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true
death toll is believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many
victims died of the virus without ever being tested.
The situation worsened Sunday in India, where new daily cases topped 8,000
for the first time and 193 more deaths were reported. India still is easing
restrictions on shops and public transport in more states beginning Monday,
although subways and schools will remain closed.
In Saudi Arabia, tens of thousands of mosques reopened Sunday for the first
time in more than two months, but Islam's holiest site in Mecca remained
closed. In Jerusalem, throngs of worshippers waited outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque
before it reopened. Many wore surgical masks and waited for temperature checks
as they entered.
In Bogota, the capital of Colombia, authorities were locking down an area of
nearly 1.5 million people as cases continued to rise.
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez said no one in the working-class Kennedy area
inaugurated by late U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961 will be allowed
out, except to seek food or medical care or in case of an emergency. Factories
that had been allowed to operate must close. The area has reported more nearly
2,500 infections and hospitals are reaching their limits.
Elite sporting events will be allowed to resume in England starting Monday,
but without spectators, paving the way for the planned June 17 return of the
Premier League, the world's richest soccer competition.
But England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam warned that the
situation remained precarious. Britain has seen nearly 38,500 deaths in the
pandemic, the second-highest number of confirmed virus deaths after the United
"I believe this is also a very dangerous moment," he said. "We have to get
Pope Francis, meanwhile, cautioned against pessimism as people emerge from
During Mass in St. Peter's Basilica to mark Pentecost Sunday, Francis noted
a tendency to say that "nothing will return as before." That kind of thinking,
Francis said, guarantees that "the one thing that certainly does not return is