Streets around the country continue to fill with marches, rallies, and protests two and a half weeks after the death of George Floyd, and some experts say protesters could be at risk for contracting COVID-19.
“Anything has the possibility to be a super-spreading event,” said Dr. Thomas Balcezak, EVP and Chief Clinical Officer, Yale New Haven Health
On an update call Thursday, hospital system experts said people are taking some of the right steps while marching.
“If you see the photographs from the last protest in the city, I see almost no one not wearing a mask,” said Balcezak.
Thousands wore their own last Friday at a march in New Haven. Yale Health physicians held a “White Coats Black Lives” solidarity moment hours before and had masks on hand for demonstrators.
“I think there’s plenty of ways of people to exercise their right to have peaceful protests and still stay safe,” said Balcezak.
State numbers show a decline in cases without the spikes other states have seen, but it may be too early to tell if these events, or the return of places like gyms and churches, will lead to more cases.
“If you are singing, shouting, exercising hard, and breathing hard that’s where if you have virus you will be spreading it,” said Balcezak. “So, we need to take steps to minimize, and those steps are masking, distance, and hand hygiene.”
Right now, 105 people are hospitalized within the Yale New Haven Health system. Sixty-two are in New Haven and 30 of those are still in intensive care.
“We’re going to have – need to have some additional ICU capacity over our normal ICU capacity, to take care of the COVID population over the next few months, well into the next year,” said Dr. Keith Churchill, EVP and chief operating officer at Yale New Haven Hospital
What happens next depends largely on what we’ve done so far with social distance, masks, and hygiene.
“It has worked,” said Balcezack. “We are seeing the results of that and it is not a time to let up on doing that. Even as we reopen.”