Coronavirus: The COVID Cost of Demonstrating

The wave of street civil-rights demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death raise obvious concerns for medical professionals, who have been stressing for weeks the importance of keeping social distance with strangers.

Well, that seems a moot point for scores of people, even amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic. But Dr. Chris Colbert, an ER doctor who heads the Emergency Medicine residency program at UIC, says demonstrators can still try to take some precautions.

They should wear masks or face coverings and carry hand sanitizer, he said. 

“It’s somewhat unrealistic to ask for 6 feet (of space between each person). If at all possible maintain 3 feet of distance,” Colbert advises. “If you are sick in any way, shape or form, please refrain from demonstrating.” 

The protests come as ERs are going back to some semblance of normalcy, he said. COVID-19 cases are still coming, but people who may have stayed away out of fear of getting infected are now showing up. 

“We’re seeing our regular patients that have chest pain, abdominal pain, as well. At one point, those patients did not feel comfortable coming into the emergency room.”

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