Protests continue to erupt throughout the U.S. regarding justice for George Floyd, and the many other black Americans who have been victims of police brutality and systematic oppression based on race. To date, there have been protests in all 50 states in addition to many global cities as an act of solidarity. As hundreds of thousands of protesters utilize their First Amendment right to support the black community, some wonder how to contribute as an ally, while staying safe amidst a global health pandemic.
Thankfully, doctors have provided guidelines on how to reduce the risk of spreading infections during and after the protests. Of course, any public interaction may increase the risk of infection, however, by taking certain precautions, you can exercise your rights while remaining as safe and healthy as possible!
What do officials suggest to safely protest and minimize the spread COVID-19 ?
Wear a Mask
By now, making sure to wear your mask when going out in public has become second nature, and attending a protest is no different. According to Dr. Nikhil Bhayani, “People should wear a proper-fitting mask that’s snug and secure and keep it on at all times.” Ensure that you are following the same guidelines as you would when you enter a public space: maintain a generous distance from the people around you, do not touch your face and wear a tightly fitted mask!
Wear Eye Protection
There is more and more evidence that proves that protecting your eyes while amongst others can reduce the spread of coronavirus. According to the CDC, the most effective forms of eye protection are goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or full-face respirators. Maimuna Majumder, a computational epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, recommends that protesters specifically wear shatterproof goggles. Additionally, she urges protesters to carry a saline spritze to reduce coughing and sneezing if they happen to experience being pepper-sprayed. With this in mind, make sure to cover your entire face when getting ready to go out and protest.
Houston, I’m proud of you! Listening to Mayor @SylvesterTurner address the crowd and watching Police Chief @ArtAcevedo marching with the protesters was immensely moving. Seeing my Pastor @JoelOsteen in attendance shows me we are united for humanity! #HoustonStrong at it’s best! pic.twitter.com/JVKLPGRakl— Samir Becic (@SamirBecic) June 3, 2020
Utilize free testing
As death rates decrease, more and more states have announced that free coronavirus testing will be offered in local pharmacies. Major cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Denver have reported that all residents will have access to free coronavirus tests regardless of their symptoms or circumstances. Fortunately, the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, told reporters that the city has the capacity to test 18,000 people per day. Although physically wearing coverage can be effective, if marching in a major city, officials urge protesters to take advantage of the free testing in order to further prevent the spread of infection.
Try to protest in YOUR community instead of traveling
Although it may be tempting to travel in order to take part in a larger protest, this may result in a high risk of spreading or developing an infection. Black communities within large cities, such as Chicago and Detroit, have been unproportionally affected by the rise of coronavirus, further marginalizing these communities. If more and more non-local residents begin to travel to new locations, especially communities of color, the likelihood of a second outbreak becomes even greater. David Holtgrave, the Dean of the University of Albany School of Public Health, announced “there are already substantial health disparities among communities of color in terms of Covid-19 impact,” he said. “So, it is important that those already serious disparities are not made even worse.”
If you have symptoms it may be best to stay home
Some of us may feel as though we are not actively doing enough to support the black community if they cannot physically protest. However, there are other ways to take action from the safety of the home! Some ways to actively participate in the Black Lives Matter movement may include donating to bailout funds, hanging up signs in your community, signing petitions, voting in the upcoming elections, reaching out to your local political candidate, or merely initiating conversations with friends and family about the importance of the movement! Click on the links at the end of this article for important donation organizations and petitions.
What to do after protesting
Public Health experts urge protesters to immediately wash, or store away the clothes worn to the protest. Further, it is highly important to disinfect any mask, eye protection or any other physical surface used that day. Before touching your face, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Lastly, monitor any symptoms you may be feeling. Follow CDC guidance if you develop symptoms.
Here are donation organizations and petitions that urgently need your support!
REMINDER: If you do not have the means to donate, there are MANY other ways to be an ally to the black community. Zoe Amira has produced a video on her youtube platform including many advertisements in order to raise donation money. By simply watching this video, you are increasing the advertisement revenue that will then be dispersed between various donation organizations. It only takes a few seconds to support!
Lastly, remember that it is okay to be overwhelmed and drained from the constant flow of daily news. Your mental health is IMPORTANT. If that means turning off your phone for a few hours or doing an activity that clears your mind, that is okay! You are more likely to be productive when your mind is energized.