Protesting and COVID-19 risks

Coronavirus

For the past week, protests have been breaking out across the nation and around western Wisconsin.

As people gather to call attention to the death of George Floyd, the risks tied to COVID-19 remain.

Hundreds of Eau Claire residents have participated in protests on Sunday and Monday but health experts say amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember to still take safety precautions.

“The CDC recommendation is to stay six feet apart from each person to maintain social distancing, if you’re unable to maintain that social distance, make sure you wear a cloth mask,” said HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital ER RN Regi Geissler. “A cloth mask is recommended for those out in the public to prevent the spread of germs”

The health department’s new public health order issued Friday prohibits large gatherings, but does allow constitutionally protected gatherings such as protests.

Lieske Giese with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, says if you do go out to protest, to follow CDC guidelines.

“We still encourage people, if they choose to go to rallies, choose to have peaceful protests, to think about physical distance and wear a cloth face covering,” Giese said. “Those two things will help decrease the risks but not eliminate the risk.”

And while most protesters were wearing masks, Geissler says if you are not wearing a mask you are putting those around you at risk.

“If somebody doesn’t have a mask on and they are sneezing and coughing, those respiratory droplets travel a long way and same thing with shouting or yelling,” said Giese.

She says it is also important to wear them correctly.

“A mask is only as important as the person that wears it and making sure that they wear it correctly. So, make sure that the mask is fitted tightly around your nose and to make sure you are not touching your face,” Giese said.

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