Protests Could Jeopardize Coronavirus Reopenings
The nationwide protests that followed the killing by police in Minneapolis of George Floyd are having an effect on the coronavirus crisis: they have diverted public attention away from it.
Two weeks ago, COVID-19 was the top news story in the country. Now, it’s receded from the headlines. Axios reported that on Sunday May 31, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News devoted 25 percent of their combined airtime to the protests — and only 2.5 percent to the coronavirus.
“We just spent 93 days limiting behavior, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed. People will have lost their jobs. People wiped out their savings,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). “And now, mass gatherings, with thousands of people, in close proximity. How many young people went home, kissed their mother hello … and spread the virus?”
Bloomberg columnist Joe Nocera said since the protests began, he believes “the pandemic has gone from being the biggest crisis since 9/11 to almost an afterthought.” This, combined with various stages of reopening of the economy across the nation now underway, could lead some people to behave as if the coronavirus threat has passed—when it has not.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that while protesters have a constitutional right to demonstrate, “congregation of large crowds raises the risk for transmission of COVID-19.” Gov. Cuomo urged protestors to assume they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus and get tested.