Austin Public Health: Protesters should monitor for COVID-19 symptoms

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin Public Health recommends everyone who participated in any gatherings over the weekend to monitor their symptoms for COVID-19, and use caution around those 65 years or older or with underlying health conditions. 

Hundreds took to the streets across the state protesting the death of George Floyd.

“The time between exposure to COVID-19 and the moment when symptoms start can range from 1 to 14 days,” said Andy Tate, City of Austin senior public information specialist. “Because we are still in a community spread of COVID-19, it is possible individuals who participated in any gathering without social distancing and face covering precautions over the weekend were exposed to the virus, but do not yet have symptoms.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said COVID-19 spreads mainly through close contact and droplets from sneezing and coughing. 

The Texas Department of State Health Services tweeted an alert on Friday that coronavirus is still spreading. Tips included wearing a face covering in public, covering coughs and sneezes and staying six feet from others. 

We know that large gatherings can lead to an increased spread of COVID-19 when recommended precautions are not observed,” said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. “However, there’s not a way to reliably predict whether or how much a particular event will increase the number of cases.”

Van Deusen said they encourage people to practice safe social distancing and wear a face covering when in public, especially if they can’t stay six feet away from other people. 

“As always, people should monitor their health for COVID-19 symptoms, particularly fever, cough and shortness of breath. If symptoms occur they should get tested and stay away from other people as much as possible,” Van Deusen explained. 

Other city officials across the country cautioned protesters, including Atlanta’s mayor. 

“If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at a news briefing, according to NBC News, “because there’s still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers.”

In New York, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tweeted tips to protesters to reduce the risk of spreading the virus including not yelling and using signs and noise makers instead, sticking to small groups, and wearing eye protection to prevent injury.

Tonight on KXAN News at 6 p.m., why medical experts worry about a setback in controlling the virus. 

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