U.S. health officials and government leaders, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday, are warning that the mass protests over racial inequities and excessive police force gripping cities across America could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases.
The protests over the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis last Monday, have intensified over the past week, spreading to dozens of across U.S cities including Los Angeles, and New York - areas already hard hit by COVID-19.
The protests are bringing together hundreds, sometimes thousands of people just as the country is reopening after lengthy lockdown.
Governor Cuomo Monday said the protests could complicate the New York City's reopening plans.
"We spent all this time closed down, locked down, socially distanced, and then you turn on the TV, and you see these mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people after everything that we have done."
Health experts say the close proximity of participants, running and yelling or chanting, may increase transmission because people emit more respiratory droplets under these conditions… though many can be seen wearing masks and exposure outside is thought to be less dangerous than inside.
Some are taking precautions, protesters in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., could be seen not only wearing face coverings but using hand sanitizer and handing out gloves …
Still, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recommended to Georgians that if they were at a protest, they should consider being tested for COVID-19.
New York City, LA and DC have all imposed curfews for Monday night.