Surgeon General Jerome Adams said new coronavirus outbreaks will likely follow the George Floyd protests held over the weekend throughout the country, Politico reports.
Adams told Politico that people’s concerns over the death of a black man by a white police officer need to be heard, but he said that means there will probably be a spike in coronavirus cases in places where people congregated to protest.
“I remain concerned about the public health consequences both of individual and institutional racism [and] people out protesting in a way that is harmful to themselves and to their communities,” Adams told Politico.
He said he was leaving a meeting at the White House with governors where the topic was how to deal with the virus spreading from protests.
“Based on the way the disease spreads, there is every reason to expect that we will see new clusters and potentially new outbreaks moving forward,” Adams said.
He said cities will have to focus on ramping up testing and handing out personal protective gear. He praised Colorado Gov. Jared Polis who made masks available for protesters. Some photos from protests show people wearing masks and handing out hand sanitizer. But that isn’t the case everywhere where social distancing measures were ignored as people rallied.
“You understand the anger, you hope that we can find ways that really can help people channel their anger into meaningful steps forward,” he said. “There is going to be a lot to do after this, even to try and get the communities of color back to where they need to be for people to be able to recover from COVID, and for people to be able to recover from the shutdown and to be able to prosper.”
He said healthcare issues people of color face, especially in relation to high death rates from COVID-19, are intertwined with the current frustration of how blacks are treated. He added both issues are on his mind.
“It’s on the top of my mind as a black man, as a father, as a brother, as a son,” Adams said.