CHICAGO — The state’s Department of Public Health is recommending anyone who took part in recent gatherings — including protests and marches — get tested for coronavirus.
That announcement came Thursday, the same day the state and city reopened the test sites they run. They had been closed for several days due to unrest over the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.
Floyd’s killing led to protests in Chicago and throughout the country. Thousands of people have participated in marches, rallies and other protests here in recent days.
Officials have said they support peaceful protests, though they’ve urged people to wear masks and keep 6 feet from one another. But they have noted the protests do increase people’s risk of being exposed to COVID-19.
That means anyone who protested or participated in other types of gathering should get tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the city’s Department of Public Health, has said people who have been in gatherings should self-isolate for 14 days or, at the very least, avoid coming in contact with people who are 60 or older or who have underlying health conditions.
Anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 must also stay home, Arwady’s said.
And Arwady said it’s not just protests that pose a risk for spreading coronavirus — people have gathered in other ways, too.
“The protests are just one piece of this. Thousands of people came together for protesting; but thousands of people, I think, also were together for things that were not a protest but also probably had risk for spread,” the doctor said during a Thursday video. “I really don’t want to attach that increased risk just to the protest because I don’t think that’s epidemiologically fair.”
The city doesn’t know yet what will be the impact of recent protests and gatherings on Chicago’s battle against coronavirus, Arwady said during a Thurday morning video. It’ll take several weeks to see what happens.
“That said, I do think we will see, probably in a best-case scenario … some flattening of progress there. My hope is that we don’t get to a point where we actually start to see a significant increase again,” Arwady said. “I don’t think it’s possible that we won’t see any effect of that on the numbers.”
The city and state had been progressing against coronavirus — seeing a dropping number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths — before recent gatherings. Chicago even moved into Phase 3 of the reopening plan Wednesday.
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