Celebs like Madison Beer and thousands of Americans have come out of quarantine to demand racial justice. A doctor tells us how you can raise your voice while protecting your health.
Ever since George Floyd was killed on May 25 after a Minneapolis cop was filmed kneeling on his neck, thousands of people have taken to the streets demanding justice.
Up and down the country and across the globe, people like Ayesha and Stephen Curry have marched in support of Black Lives Matter and racial equality. They’ve crowded streets and parks, in the middle of a pandemic.
But, just because the coronavirus continues to spread, it doesn’t mean that you can’t protest peacefully and stay healthy. Dr. Michael G. Knight – an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Patient Safety Officer at George Washington University – says that it’s possible to do both.
“The coronavirus has not gone anywhere. It’s still here,” Dr. Knight tells HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview. “Anytime you see large gatherings of people there is increased risk of transmission. Obviously, people are not just gathering to go to the beach or for tourism, but they’re gathering for advocacy reasons. So, it’s finding the balance between wanting to express what you’re passionate about, but also trying to keep yourself safe.”
So, what do you do if you feel compelled to protest, but you want to reduce your risk of catching (and spreading) COVID-19? Dr. Knight shared some practical tips:
Wear A Mask
At this point it seems obvious, but while many protestors have been photographed and filmed wearing masks, many were not. Dr. Knight says that wearing a mask and “being around other people that are also wearing masks” is key. “So many people are protesting in groups. They may go out with people that they know,” he says. “If they can encourage those [people] to keep masks on and stay within that group, then that’s going to decrease the risk.”
Keep Your Hands Clean
Hand hygiene is also a must, Dr. Knight says. “Obviously, it’s difficult to wash your hands when you’re out in the street protesting. So, [have] a portable, personal hand sanitizer that you can keep in your pocket, and really try to sanitize [your] hands at regular intervals and if you touch anything that may be contaminated such as doorknobs, handlebars, a variety of other things.”
Keep Your Distance
It’s not easy to do when you’re at a mass protest, but Dr. Knight recommends trying. “We know that’s not realistic if you are, for example, in the middle of a sidewalk protest,” he says. But, for those who are in a park for a demonstration, he recommends trying to keep some distance between yourself and others. “It may just be a couple of feet, but the more distance is the decreased risk of potential transmission,” Dr. Knight says. “If you are marching, keeping distance between yourself and others is a little bit more flexible. You may stay on the outskirts of the mass of people, but still be able to raise your voice.”
Dr. Knight’s advice is essential because, unfortunately, COVID-19 is not going anywhere right now. As he says, “There is a risk of coronavirus transmission anytime you leave your home and interact with other people.”