SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — As scores of people gather throughout the ArkLaTex and the rest of the country to voice their frustration over the death of George Floyd, leading health experts are concerned about a potential rise in novel coronavirus cases.
Dr. Joseph Bocchini, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Willis-Knighton Health System, believes we could see an increase in cases in two to three weeks.
“Any gathering of people, whether it be protesters or at a beach, it certainly raises the possibility of transmission of the coronavirus. In Louisiana, we are almost at Phase II, so any break in what we’ve been doing raises the possibility that we will see more virus.”
On Saturday, another demonstration is expected in downtown Shreveport.
Bocchini urges all protesters to continue following health guidelines.
“Wear a mask ... that’s number one,” he emphasized. “Number 2, if you’re sick with a respiratory illness, you have to stay home; do not go out in a crowd of people.”
Bocchini also stressed the vitality of maintaining social distancing at all times, if possible.
“That may be hard in a crowd, especially if the crowd is moving. You should do your best to try and do that.”
But once protesters return to their homes and families following the demonstrations, there is a risk that younger, asymptomatic carriers will spread the virus to vulnerable members of their families.
“It’s going to be more the elderly, more in individuals that have underlying risk conditions that increase the likelihood of serious infection,” Bocchini added.
If there is a gradual increase in COVID-19 in the community, he said, it likely will take at least two to three weeks before we see the true effects of the mass gatherings.
“There is an incubation period following infection, many people have asymptomatic infection. ... So we will really understand what’s going on when we see hospital admissions go up.”