As hundreds of thousands of people gather for the George Floyd protests, fears about the coronavirus are diminishing, but should those concerns be escalating instead? Johns Hopkins Senior Scholar, Dr. Amesh Adalja weighs in on if protesters could cause a spike in coronavirus cases or heard immunity.
Dr. Deborah Birx, President Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, estimated 70 testing sites were destroyed during the protests related to the death of George Floyd while under police custody, according to a shocking report.
Birx reportedly raised concerns in a conference call on Monday that the destroyed COVID-19 testing sites serving inner-city populations could set back efforts to contain the spread, according to the Daily Beast, based on a recording of the call they say they obtained.
Birx said the destruction “had already resulted in an appreciable drop in testing rates there,” according to the outlet.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx listens during an event in honor of World Nurses Day in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, May 6, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
“All of the governors are going to have to scramble to make sure there is testing available in those urban areas,” Birx reportedly said.
The coordinator also echoed fears that the physical act of yelling could void the health benefits from wearing a mask.
While Birx, in a separate June 3 phone call with governors, said she did not see a “big surge” in COVID-19 cases following Memorial Day weekend, she was concerned about the impact of protests in metro areas, the outlet wrote.
During the Monday call, Birx reportedly said that, as the protests grew more peaceful, more at-risk populations began attending. She reportedly urged governors to ensure law enforcement officials who responded to the protests undergo virus testing, calling it “absolutely critical.”
Fox News requested comment from the White House Press Office to confirm the Monday coronavirus task force conference call. Fox News did not immediately receive a response.
The Daily Beast account surfaced after news of more than a dozen states and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico recording their highest averages of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic hit the U.S.
Hospitalizations in at least nine states have also increased since Memorial Day, according to The Washington Post.
More specifically, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah, as well as Puerto Rico, have recorded their highest seven-day average increases in new cases since the start of the pandemic, the newspaper reported.
The uptick in cases and hospitalizations in states like Arizona, North Carolina, California and Utah don’t appear to be related to the protests, the Daily Beast wrote. Birx reported her team followed outbreaks in eight states last week, 38 percent of which were tied to community spread and 55 percent stemmed from places including nursing homes, food-processing plants and prisons.
Fox News’ Madeline Farber contributed to this report.