Here’s when San Antonio could see a possible coronavirus spike from the ongoing protests

San Antonio could see a spike in COVID-19 cases in a few weeks because of the daily gatherings of protesters downtown, according to Anita Kurian, assistant director of San Antonio Metropolitan Health.

Since May 29, many San Antonians have hit the streets to protest against police brutality despite the threat of the coronavirus. Thursday marked the 13th consecutive days of protest after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Kurian said it would be “very difficult” to link a spike in cases to the protests because testing centers aren’t asking people if they’ve attended a protest. However, the city should be able gauge a possible impact in three to four weeks, she said.

“There is a chance a number of COVID-19 cases could rise,” she said. “Anytime large groups of people are getting together, there is always the risk of virus transmission. There are a number of different factors to consider such as the environment of people that are protesting, is it happening indoors or outdoors, the number of people attending and the type of precautions they are taking too.”

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In San Antonio, most of the protests have been outdoors, which makes the risk of person-to-person transmission less than it would be if people were congregating indoors, Kurian said. Either way, she said there is still a risk when large groups of people come together.

“They are standing so close to each other and making social distancing difficult,” Kurian said. “There is always a cause for concern, so people should realize when large groups of people are close together during the protests it is inherently dangerous in the context of this pandemic and could trigger an uptick in COVID-19 cases.”

Kurian encourages demonstrators to get tested for COVID-19, even if they’re asymptomatic. She also recommends for demonstrators to practice social distancing, to wear a mask at all times and to isolate themselves from people who are at high risk for up to two weeks after attending a protest.

The numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and people hospitalized with the virus in Bexar County are growing at alarming rates, health officials said Wednesday.

On Thursday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg reported 192 new cases, pushing the total number of  local cases to 3,840.

The mayor said in tweet that locals didn’t treat the pandemic as seriously as officials would have hoped during Memorial Day weekend and said those who have attended a demonstration should consider getting tested.

Priscilla Aguirre is a general assignment reporter for | [email protected] | @CillaAguirre


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