As thousands gathered across the country to protest alleged police brutality in the wake of the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, many on the left were hesitant to admit the demonstrations could cause a spike in cases of the coronavirus. Now, however, one prominent Democrat is coming clean.
According to Fox News, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) confessed Wednesday that recent protests in the city have been linked to new cases of COVID-19.
Finally, some truth
According to The New York Times, the U.S. has seen some 2.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 129,000 deaths. But though widespread unrest drew thousands to the streets, Democrats have been reluctant to tie the protests to recent coronavirus surges.
Even Garcetti denied that there was any evidence tying recent spikes in cases to the demonstrations in a press conference Monday.
“We follow the data closely. There’s no evidence yet that the protests led to much spread, though it’s something that Dr. [Barbara] Ferrer has hypothesized,” he said, referring to a top official in Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health, according to Fox 11 in Los Angeles. “We haven’t seen any conclusive evidence there.”
By Wednesday, the mayor had changed his tune.
“I talked again with Dr. Ferrer about that this morning. She does think some of the spread did come from our protests,” he said, according to Fox News.
Protesting in a pandemic
Of course, Garcetti was quick to add a disclaimer.
“It’s not the act of protesting — that’s a great and American thing to do no matter what your opinion is,” he said, according to Fox News, “but protesting without maintaining physical distancing, without wearing your mask, without having sanitizer — we just have to be smart.”
The mayor went on: “Whether you’re at a protest or at your home, whether in your workplace or whether you’re out shopping, these rules don’t change.”
Federal guidelines have indeed suggested social distancing, face masks, and frequent hand washing as effective methods of curbing the spread of COVID-19. But while demonstrators in major U.S. cities were often seen wearing masks, staying six feet apart proved to be a challenge that many weren’t willing to overcome.