Offering a preview of what's likely coming down the pipe over the next few weeks, a local TV station just reported that a member of the Minnesota National Guard who was deployed to clash with rioters and looters over the weekend has tested positive for COVID-19 - likely the first of many.
NEWS: Fewer than 10 Minnesota National Guard members are quarantined after having upper respiratory symptoms, deputy state surgeon Dean Stulz says.— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) June 2, 2020
One coronavirus test has come back positive.
All 7,000+ activated
Guard members will be tested after activation orders end.
Several others are reportedly exhibiting symptoms (remember, Floyd was killed 8 days ago and in Minneapolis, demonstrations have been ongoing since the day after his death).
Given that protests and marches, like the demonstration in Madrid commemorating International Women's Day, have already been blamed for helping to spread the virus earlier during the pandemic, health experts are worried that a second wave of COVID-19 infections could be sparked by the mass gatherings, ABC News reports.
"What we have here is a very unfortunate experiment going on with COVID virus transmission," said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Risks are even higher when factoring in the more than 5,500 who have been arrested, according to the latest AP tally. Jails are typically crowded, poorly ventilated, indoor spaces, and what's more, some protesters sat in vehicles at close range for an extended period of time, which increases the risk for onward transmission of the virus, Osterholm explained.
Although there's lower risk for the virus to be spread outdoors, especially in a moving crowd, the use of tear gas and pepper spray, along with the protesters who lit cars and buildings on fire, could cause coughing, which can help aerosolize the virus, Osterholm added, increasing the risk that it will spread.
Even the ostensibly healthy can be carriers of COVID-19.
"If people say 'well, these are healthy folks,' we know that at least a third of COVID patients are asymptomatic according to the CDC," added Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
During a press briefing on Monday, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted that "we don't want people out there where they might catch this disease or spread this disease...[t]here's no question there's a danger [that] this could intensify the spread of the coronavirus just at a point when we were starting to beat it back profoundly."
We imagine more governors will approve plans to start testing all national guard members mobilized to combat the looting and riots.