Health officials in the United States have not yet traced major outbreaks of the virus to the protests that followed George Floyd’s killing, but across the country, officials are seeing a handful of new cases with possible links to the demonstrations, with at least 30 cases as of today, according to a New York Times analysis.
That number — which includes police officers, National Guard members and demonstrators across nine states and Washington, D.C. — represents a tiny fraction of the thousands of new virus cases being identified across the country each day that have no apparent connection to the protests.
And health officials have warned that it is still too soon to know whether the protests against police brutality and systemic racism will lead to major clusters and wider community spread of the virus, which can take up to 14 days to produce symptoms. In late May, Mr. Floyd, a black man, died after he was pinned under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer for nearly nine minutes, including even after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive. The officer was charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
In Minnesota, where the protests began and where a handful of National Guard members were infected, the state has asked protesters to get tested and has opened new testing sites. Officials were bracing for the possibility of new cases, however. Gretchen Musicant, the Minneapolis health commissioner, said it was too early for cases traced to the gatherings to appear in the numbers.
In other pockets of the country those cases were already turning up.
In Nebraska, at least nine members of the National Guard and one police officer tested positive after working at protests in Lincoln and Omaha. Two police officers in Canton, Ohio, who worked during a protest came down with the virus. Two cases may be related to demonstrations in Kittitas County, Wash. And in Lawrence, Kan., where a man with symptoms went to a protest without wearing a mask, a second person who attended the gathering tested positive, officials said Thursday.
In New York, the governor has also asked for protesters to get tested and to consider themselves exposed. On Friday, Dr. Jay Varma, a top health adviser to the New York City mayor, said that public health best practices suggest waiting as many as 28 days from the beginning of the demonstrations — twice the virus’s longest incubation period — before more definitively determining whether the events contributed to a spike in cases.
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