Health Department concerned COVID-19 cases might rise due to Jacksonville protests

It may take the next 2 weeks before we know if protest could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of people have been gathering during recent demonstrations in Jacksonville following the death of George Floyd, who died while in custody of Minneapolis police.

As a result, the Duval County Health Department is concerned the area might see a rise in COVID-19 cases.

“Everyone is suspecting there might be slight increases as a result of this," said Dr. Pauline Rolle with the Duval County Health Department.

Health experts say COVID-19 spreads faster when infected people open their mouths.

“You have people walking closely together, yelling and talking, which is a way of spreading the disease," Rolle said. "So, certainly there is a concern of people being in mass gatherings and this disease being transmitted from person to person.”

Although many protesters are wearing a mask, Rolle said they may still be putting themselves in danger of being infected or possibly infecting others.

“If folks are wearing it below their nose, taking it off to talk or not changing it regularly, particularly if its soaked from all the screaming and talking, they may be putting themselves at risk and others at risk," Rolle said.

The Health Department urges people who are protesting in mass gatherings to carry more than one mask. It’s also asking those people to get tested for the virus.

“We’re encouraging everybody to get tested," Rolle said. "It’s not mandatory. It’s your choice, however, we do believe it is better for people to be tested and know their status.”

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