Local COVID-19 expert encourages protesters to wear a mask, get tested if showing symptoms


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Monday marks two weeks since George Floyd died in police custody, after former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.

A teenager recorded as Floyd repeatedly pleaded “I can’t breathe.”

Floyd’s death triggered protests in all 7 cities here in Hampton Roads, and even more calls for change around the world, with protesters chanting “black lives matter” while calling for changes within the justice system.

The protests nationwide have led to the arrest of all of the officers involved and some changes to police policies regarding chokeholds.

Most protesters are wearing masks, but it is hard to social distance in a crowd.

However, health experts say you may want to consider getting a COVID-19 test.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, warns of a possible seeding event, mainly in bigger cities.

“Minneapolis happens to be one that is still having significant transmission, D.C. Is another one. We really want those individuals to highly consider being evaluated,” Redfield said.

Health officials locally are concerned about an increase in coronavirus cases. If you go to protest, it is very important to wear a mask and pay attention to your symptoms.

Dr. Edward Oldfield served as the Eastern Virginia Medical School Chief of infectious diseases for more than 20 years and still teaches at the college. Dr. Oldfield recently transitioned to work as EVMS’ COVID- 19 expert.

He says it only takes more than 15 minutes in close contact with someone positive for the virus to be at-risk of infection.

“The virus doesn’t care how valid what you are or how important what you’re doing. It only cares if there’s someone infected in close contact with someone who’s not immune. That’s all it cares about, the issue can be, it’s going to take probably two weeks to find out if there’s any connection,” Oldfield said.

On average, incubation of the virus takes about 5 days, from the time you get infected until the first time you start showing symptoms.

“So, even if someone who is protesting becomes infected, we won’t really know whether it was the protest, or the opening and going to phase two.”

He adds studies show being outside and hot weather could slow the spread. But the virus is so hard to contain because of asymptotic people.

“A lot of these protests are strung together for hours, if not all day. And of course, when you vocalize without a mask then you’re going to have more droplets and infectious material than if you were quiet, and in particular, if you’re behind the mask.”

However, he says you should not get tested unless you are showing symptoms including: shortness of breath, coughing or fever.

“This will be interesting to see how this works out. And I hope for the sake of the protesters that they’ve been wearing masks.”

For more information on how and where to get tested, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

WAVY Twitter Widget

***Don’t Miss Module Removal CSS***

WAVY Facebook