Va. Health officials urge protesters to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines
The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts are urging protesters to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines as hundreds of people gather downtown to march in close proximity.
“Local protests are drawing hundreds and in some cases thousands of people to downtown Richmond to march or gather in close proximity. Many people are wearing masks, but others are protesting without them, which makes the crowd as a whole more vulnerable,” health officials said.
The health district said COVID-19 can still spread person-to-person in large gatherings, and it only takes just a handful of contagious people to potentially infect 100s of people. The virus also spreads more easily when a person is yelling, or when a person coughs or sneezes.
“There is no question that COVID-19 can spread during these protests. It is impossible to predict how many people will become infected, and contact tracing will be made much more challenging given that so many strangers are standing close together in solidarity,” the health district said.
The health district released the following guidelines protesters should follow to protect themselves and others:
- If you feel sick, stay home.
- Wear a mask over your mouth and nose. Remember that masks are most effective when everyone is wearing them, as unmasked people can still spread COVID-19 to masked people in close proximity, especially if they are coughing or yelling.
- Noisemakers, drums, and written signs can convey personal messages with much lower risk for viral transmission.
- Consider carrying goggles and saline spray to reduce coughing and sneezing if you are exposed to smoke, pepper spray, or other chemical irritants.
- Try to stick close to people you know while marching or gathering. If you become infected, this can help with contact tracing efforts.
- Monitor yourself closely for symptoms for two weeks after you protest. If symptoms appear, be sure to isolate and call your primary care provider to arrange testing or come to a community testing event.
- Remember that people with COVID-19 do not always experience symptoms, so take care for two weeks after you attend a protest to wear a mask and practice social distancing to protect your loved ones and community.
- The health districts continue to host free COVID-19 testing events. Dates and future times can be found, HERE.
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