Activists stop street protests in South Carolina as some protesters become infected

South Carolina racial justice activists said they would postpone future protests or move them online after at least 13 people who participated in previous protests tested positive for the coronavirus.

A group of people stand in front of a crowd posing for the camera: protesters march June 5 in Columbia, SC.  asking for racial justice.  Protest organizers say they will postpone future events as some participants tested positive for coronavirus.  (Sean Rayford / Getty Images)

© Sean Rayford / Getty Images
Protesters march June 5 in Columbia, SC. asking for racial justice. Protest organizers say they will postpone future events as some participants tested positive for coronavirus. (Sean Rayford / Getty Images)

As the number of cases across the country continued to increase ominously on Monday, organizers of the “I can’t breathe” protests in South Carolina urged participants to test for the virus.


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In a video posted Sunday on Facebook, organizer Lawrence Nathaniel said protesters who marched in Columbia, SC between May 30 and June 17 tested positive. He said four organizers were confirmed infected, along with three photographers and six protesters.

“We need to do our part,” he said. “Go take the test. Don’t come to a protest until you get tested, okay?

Nathaniel’s warning came when 29 US states and territories. USA They reported increases in their seven-day averages of new confirmed cases and daily totals continued to approach record levels not seen since March and April. Public health authorities blamed the virus-weary states that reopened before they beat the virus, while leaders of some of those states cited other factors.

In Florida, whose governor, Ron DeSantis (R), lobbied to reopen businesses in his state, the total number of cases exceeded the 100,000 mark. Florida broke a state record on Saturday when it reported 4,049 new cases. His seven-day average of 2,386 daily new cases is 84 percent higher than the average number of cases reported a week ago, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.

Last week, DeSantis suggested that the increase could be attributed to increased testing and increased disease in migrant farming communities, prisons and long-term care facilities, WJXT-TV in Jacksonville reported.

In Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott (R) took a similar stance on the reopening, the number of new cases and hospitalizations continued at a rapid and “unacceptable” pace, Abbott said at a news conference Monday. But he said closing the state again was a last resort.

Abbott said Texas averages around 3,500 new cases per day, more than double its daily rate of 1,500 in the last fortnight of May. The positive testing rate has soared to more than 9 percent, he said.

Abbott reiterated Monday that masks are not yet required across the state, saying that forcing Texas to close again “will always be the last option.” He said that if the increases continue at their current rate, “additional measures will be necessary.”

“To say the obvious, covid-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas,” said Abbott, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus.

A group of experts at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center predicted a 20 percent increase in cases in North Texas in early July. His model, featured in an online forum on Monday, showed that new cases have skyrocketed among younger people.

“The recent growth appears to be primarily due to the increase in cases in the younger age groups, especially those between the ages of 21 and 40,” they said in the analysis published Monday. “In June, 50 percent of patients hospitalized with covid-19 and 30 percent of ICU patients were under the age of 50.”

Overall, the United States has seen about 2.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 118,000 deaths, by far the most in the world, according to data compiled by The Post.

New York City, one of the places against the trend of increasing workload, allowed office buildings to reopen Monday in Phase 2 of its plan. Open-air restaurants, beauty salons, and car dealerships also welcomed customers and workers again, as the city, where the number of cases dropped dramatically from the height of the pandemic, continued to relax. public health restrictions.

The New York headquarters of the National Football League reopened on Monday with a restricted number of employees allowed inside the building, as authorities estimated that between 150,000 and 300,000 employees would return to work in person across the city.

But many others will not. Goldman Sachs, the New York Times, and others do not expect employees to return until 2021. Major technology companies like Facebook have gone further and told employees that they can work from home permanently.

Also on Monday, President Trump issued a proclamation banning many foreign workers and limiting immigration visas until the end of the year, a move the administration characterized as necessary to protect American workers after the heavy loss of jobs by the pandemic, according to senior administration officials.

The freeze will apply to work visas used by many companies, especially in the technology sector, landscaping services and the forest industry. It excludes agricultural workers and some health workers and includes a special exemption for the approximately 20,000 child care providers who come to the United States as an au pair.

Concerns about the infections related to the protests began almost as soon as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across the country to express anger at the death of George Floyd, a black man who was videotaped succumbing when an officer White Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Social distancing in many of the crowded protests was not possible, and some protesters and police did not wear masks.

Still, late last week, many protesting cities reported that they hadn’t tracked waves of infection directly to the mass gatherings.

Epidemiologists called for caution about ruling out the possibility of outbreaks related to protests simply because the 14-day incubation period for the virus had passed. Some experts estimate that the case spikes could take up to four weeks to appear in the data, in part because it may take a week or more before someone infected shows symptoms, and often it takes extra time before that person searches for a test.

Experts also said the delay could be even longer because the protesters were mainly young people who might not show symptoms. The virus often causes more severe symptoms in older people; Experts said those who attended the street protests could infect family or friends with a greater chance of developing symptoms later.

Nathaniel, the South Carolina organizer, said his group was canceling several protests, including one that had been scheduled for Sunday. Organizers plan to wait until they can find a better way to ensure the safety of protesters or until there is a decrease in cases. He said it has been tested and is waiting for results.

Nathaniel said the protests will move online, and his group will discourage street protests after Wednesday, when a march is planned.

Across the United States, African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. In South Carolina, blacks account for 36 percent of state-confirmed cases and 46 percent of deaths despite representing 27 percent of South Carolina’s population, according to the state newspaper.

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