Concerns over the lack of social distancing during protests, demonstrations, and riots: Health experts say could result in a spike of COVID-19 cases in the summer


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The “infamous second wave” in the fall was a concern for many health professionals. Now, they are predicting COVID-19 cases to increase in the summer because of warmer weather, protests, and riots.

“A lot of folks are going to protest in the big cities are not from there,” said Dr. Jose Vazquez. “I predict what will happen; those people who were in those cities for several days, sharing who knows what, are going to go back home, and we are going to see spikes across the country.”

There was speculation that the Summer’s Heat would lessen the spread of the coronavirus. Health experts say that is not the case. With large groups of people gathering together to protest, we could see another surge.

“What’s the difference from us walking on the streets and a store together?” asked Jameka Gardner. “Most people don’t wear their face covering where they are. So what’s the difference? At least I’m out here risking my life, wanting to bring justice and equality to something we know is unjust.”

NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson spoke with two other people who have participated in rallies in Augusta. They told him they are concerned about the virus spreading, but fighting for what’s right is more important.

“If you look at the people on the beaches, they aren’t social distancing,” said Francesca Collette-Hicks. “We are out here doing something with a purpose. We aren’t out here to have fun; we are out here fighting for something that we believe in.”

“Our corrupt system is killing out black men and women daily,” explained Alasya Owten. “I believe, if we can’t die for this, what can we die and live for? I face the possibility of dying every time I sit in my car.”

Everybody Devin spoke with did say they are practicing social distancing guidelines during protests. While protests nation-wide are expected to continue, The Division Chief for Infectious Diseases at Augusta University advises people to stay home if they are sick. He says AU is prepared if there is a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We are prepared for it because we see low levels,” said Dr. Vazquez. “We have beds, space, ventilators, and PPE. We are ready for this spike or surge.”

Dr. Vazquez adds there will be a surge in influenza-like-infections in the fall.

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