Introduction

In the weeks following the death of George Floyd, cities throughout America have erupted in mass protests. Protesting is, of course, a First Amendment right that we hold dear as Americans. It implies the gatherings of large groups of people in cities, generally to spread a message. However, these protests come at the time of the Coronavirus pandemic, or COVID-19, that has been haunting the world, plaguing America the most; the protests eradicate measures needed to fight the Coronavirus. Therefore, although the protests taking place throughout American cities in the aftermath of George Floyd provide the right message, they are the last thing we should be doing right now, as mass protesting destroys quarantine and social distancing measures that we should be prioritizing. In essence, America has seemingly forgotten about the pandemic.

The Impact of COVID-19 on America

Originating in Wuhan, China in early January, the Coronavirus has since merged into a global pandemic, and has ravaged through nearly every nation. The virus entered America around mid to late January (medical professionals debate) in Washington state. It also entered the East Coast of America through travel from Europe. Since then, in America, there have been over 2.3 million cases of Coronavirus and over 120,000 deaths. With these numbers, America now leads the world in both COVID-19 cases and deaths, making it the hardest hit country in the world by the virus. The hardest hit American regions by COVID-19 are the East Coast Megalopolis, from Massachusetts to Virginia (New York was the epicenter), as well as California, Illinois, and Florida. This information, while true, is unrelated to your topic regarding how mass protesting is problematic considering COVID-19. The economic impacts of COVID-19 aren’t related to the dangers of mass protesting during COVID-19. See if you can find any similar cases throughout your article.) The battle against COVID-19 has been life altering in America, as the world’s 3rd most populous country. As numerous organizations worldwide are currently working on developing vaccines, the search for a vaccine has so far been indefinite and uncertain. Therefore, the two main principles being practiced by the population to combat the virus are Quarantine and Social Distancing. Quarantine encompasses staying at home generally only with family. One mustn’t leave the house unless absolutely necessary. This prevents human interaction in society, thereby slowing the spread of the Coronavirus. If one does leave the house, it is highly recommended that they must practice Social Distancing, which constrains maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from every person. This allows people to go outside and carry out essential tasks while keeping distance from others. Collectively, the emergence of these new general practices as norms has significantly changed daily life for all Americans.

Aftermath Of George Floyd’s Death

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46 year old African American man, was killed in Minneapolis, MN, after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, depriving Floyd of oxygen through asphyxiation. Floyd could be heard on the video repeating “I can’t breathe” multiple times before he died. Floyd’s killing marked another victim in the long list of African American men killed by white police officers, sparking mass protests throughout American cities throughout recent weeks, asserting against police brutality to African Americans, and against African American discrimination in general. However, these protests are unlike any others that we’ve witnessed over the last several years, as they entailed potent rioting and looting on a large scale. Such a trend materializing throughout the country has thrown American cities into chaos, even leading President Trump to call in the National Guard in select cities, such as Washington, DC and Atlanta, GA. The prevailing protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death also differ from preceding protests in scale and population. In the context of previous posts in the aftermath of a black man being killed by white police officers, the protests had generally taken place solely in the city where the killing occurred, and crowds were generally up to a few thousand people. However, as has been observed in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, demonstrations have been transpiring in every major American city one can name. Additionally, nearly every individual protest, no matter the city, has contained tens of thousands of protestors, the cities with the highest amounts of protests, including New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

The Impact of the Protests on COVID-19

The death of George Floyd and the current protests following are taking place during America’s struggle with the Coronavirus pandemic. Apace with this, various measures have been practiced by most Americans to avoid the spread of the virus by preventing physical proximity and contact with people. However, the practice of protesting involves massive crowds of people gathering within urban areas. The protests heavily contradict the measures Americans should be taking to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19. Because the gathering of large groups is such an integral part of protesting, it expedites the spread of the virus between protestors. This has the potential to cause spikes in the number of Coronavirus cases, as well as deaths, throughout the country, especially in states with protesting cities. As a result, the protests in American cities may hinder the fight against COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the de facto leader in the fight against COVID-19 said on June 5 that the ongoing protests in recent weeks are “a perfect setup for the spread of the virus.” Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb explained that “we’ll certainly see transmissions coming out of these (current) gatherings, and about 1 in 200 Americans likely carry the virus.” Gottlieb added that we will “likely see cases go up” in America, as the protests are taking place in Coronavirus hotspot cities, such as New York and Chicago. This ascertains America’s two leading medical professionals in the Coronavirus pandemic, demonstrating that the protests in American cities in the flak of George Floyd’s death will inevitably prompt a rise in cases in America. Outside of Fauci and Gottlieb, most medical professionals are equivocal about potential effects of the current protests on COVID-19 in America. This is due to the Coronavirus incubation period, of around 2 weeks, and the current assiduity of the protests. Furthermore, it is unrealistic to ask every post-protest infected person whether or not they attended a protest. Trevor Bedford, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, expects the protests to increase the number of infections in the United States by 3 percent to 6 percent per day. At this point in the Coronavirus pandemic in America, that would likely mean adding more than 10, but less than 100 deaths per day, he estimated. This dejectedly backs the claim of the ongoing protests accounting for a spike in American Coronavirus infections, as with America being the 3rd most populous county in the world, a 3 to 6 percent increase is a high upsurge in the amount of COVID-19 cases within the country. This, combined with America being the world’s hardest hit country by COVID-19 (with over 2.3 million cases and 123,000 deaths) pre-protests, establish the unnerving potential of current protests on an unprecedented increase of COVID-19 cases and deaths in America, therefore establishing that current protesting needs to be avoided, and the practices of quarantine and social distancing need to be carried out and strengthened instead.

Solutions

Although the practice of protesting is heavily discouraged at this time during the Coronavirus pandemic, we should, nevertheless, work to carry out the broader message that is yearning us to go out and protest, that message being to go against police brutality and discrimination against African Americans in general. However, there are numerous means, aside from protesting, that we could go about in order to spread these crucial messages and movements, while simultaneously taking necessary quarantine measures in order to combat the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic that is the other major current issue in America. One such method is civic engagement. This customarily comes in the form of signing petitions calling for change, voting for certain candidates one believes will bring about the necessary change (we do have a presidential race and midterms this year), and contacting local representatives or even senators regarding the issue and pushing for change. These civic engagement methods allow one to be the spark of the local push for change regarding police brutality and discrimination against African Americans, while staying home and eliminating change of Coronavirus contraction. Another such method is virtual town halls as well as video calls. This can be carried out through platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, and HouseParty. Virtual town halls and video calls on any scale, using the platforms mentioned, allow one to discuss the ongoing issues regarding police brutality and discrimination against African Americans with the local community, friends, family, or any person, while taking care of stay at home quarantine benchmarks. Lastly, the powerful use of social media can be substituted for protests during pandemic times. Nowadays, we have sizable social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram available to us with the click of our phones. This is indispensable, as these social media services allow one to carry out and spread the message speaking out against police brutality ad discrimination against African Americans, arguably America’s leading social issue. These solutions may not entail the direct physical “feel” of the protests, but help spread the relevant message on a large scale (which is the objective of protests), all while doing so staying at home, following quarantine measures, thereby helping to fight the spread of COVID-19 simultaneously.

Counter Argument

Many argue that the Coronavirus pandemic, if anything, calls specifically for protests against racial inequality in America, as African Americans have had the highest infection rates in most metropolitan areas, and have the least access to healthcare. Furthermore, they argue, this fits in with the current protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, based on police brutality towards African Americans. However, such an argument is profoundly false, as protesting would put more African Americans at risk. As we appreciate, the practice of protesting compels the gathering of large groups. Such gatherings take place in cities and downtown/urban areas, where the African American population of a city is generally concentrated. Consequently, the current protests expose the African Americans living in the middle of these cities to exponentially increased amounts of people, therefore increasing their risk of COVID-19 infection. This substantiates that at the time of the COVID-19 in America, the protests meant to protect African Americans instead put them in increased danger, invalidating the counterargument.

Conclusion

All in all, we are at a discernible turning point in American history, and it is clear that change is necessary, based on the social injustices we’ve been seeing unfold throughout our country. However, we are also in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, and based on the data on its effect on America, it is compulsory that we follow necessary quarantine measures to repel COVID-19 in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones, African Americans we would protest for, and hundreds of thousands of others who live in our areas. Preventing the practice of protesting is key to making sure we can achieve this during these unprecedented times. Numerous alternatives exist in our society today, allowing us to spread and communicate the message against police brutality and discrimination against African Americans, while staying safe at home. Together, with the prevention of protests and other efforts, we can work to save countless lives and eliminate America’s title as the hardest hit country by COVID-19, and work to end police brutality and discrimination.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and/or student and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of United 4 Social Change Inc., its board members, or officers.
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