How to protest safely during the COVID-19 pandemic

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When Dr. Jeff Warren looks at video of protests in Memphis and elsewhere, he’s conflicted.

“I was worried the people in the protest might be infecting each other. That being said, there’s a reason people are out there protesting,” he said.

He said he supports their right to protest and thinks their cause is important. But he also pointed out, most protesters are not social distancing, which puts people at high risk, especially when chanting and shouting.

“I’d say it’s a strong possibility,” he said of chances people picked up the coronavirus during protests. “One of the things we know that transmits the virus is signing or loud speech.”

The physician and Memphis city councilman said if you’ve been out in the protest crowds, you should self-quarantine, especially if you are in close contact with high-risk populations or worried about exposing parents and grandparents.

“We don’t want people who work in nursing homes out and catching it and then bringing it in,” he said.

He also said protesters should get tested; the best time to do so is four days after potential exposure.

He warned he’s already concerned about the increasing case numbers in Shelby County and thinks there will now be a spike from both the Memorial Day weekend and the protests.

If you do plan to protest, Dr. Warren said the best way to protect yourself and others is to try to stay six feet apart. Also wear a face covering, bring hand sanitizer and use it any time you touch your face.

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