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Health advocates do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission
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Health advocates do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission
A group of health and medical colleagues has penned an open letter to express their concern that protests around the United States could be shut down under the guise of coronavirus health concerns.

The letter -- which went on to draw more than 1,200 signatures -- focuses on techniques to reduce harm to people protesting racial injustice.


"We created the letter in response to emerging narratives that seemed to malign demonstrations as risky for the public health because of Covid-19," according to the letter writers, many of whom are part of the University of Washington's Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"Instead, we wanted to present a narrative that prioritizes opposition to racism as vital to the public health, including the epidemic response. We believe that the way forward is not to suppress protests in the name of public health but to respond to protesters demands in the name of public health, thereby addressing multiple public health crises."

"However, as public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States. We can show that support by facilitating safest protesting practices without detracting from demonstrators' ability to gather and demand change. This should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders." Those actions not only oppose public health interventions, but are also rooted in white nationalism and run contrary to respect for Black lives.

"Prepare for an increased number of infections in the days following a protest," the letter says. "Provide increased access to testing and care for people in the affected communities, especially when they or their family members put themselves at risk by attending protests."

A public health response to these demonstrations is also warranted, but this message must be wholly different from the response to white protesters resisting stay-home orders. Infectious disease and public health narratives adjacent to demonstrations against racism must be consciously anti-racist, and infectious disease experts must be clear and consistent in prioritizing an anti-racist message.



https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/05/healt...index.html
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Health advocates do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission - by Agnostico - June 6, 2020 at 2:53 pm

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