It is important for people to be able to demonstrate peacefully and have their voices heard. We strongly encourage all participants – protestors, law enforcement, and members of the media – to follow these guidelines to stay safe and protect themselves from COVID-19 transmission if attending protests or demonstrations.
Maintain physical distancing.
Whenever people gather in large numbers, there is a potential for the disease to spread. It’s important to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing or more. Shouting generates more aerosols and can spread the virus further, increasing COVID-19 transmission. Some police tactics, such as tear gas and pepper spray, could exacerbate the situation by prompting people to cough and gasp for air. We caution police that these tactics can lead to increased transmission of COVID-19.
Wear a mask.
Wearing a mask is very important if you plan to gather in large groups because people who have no symptoms can spread COVID-19. Wearing a non-medical mask or face covering helps minimize the spread of the virus. Everyone should wear a mask when out in public. Instructions for making masks can be found at the Colorado Mask Project.
We understand the reasons why wearing a mask can be difficult.
We recognize that for people of color, racial bias and stereotypes of criminality have created real fears about going out in public with a mask or face covering. People of color have been removed from stores for wearing masks, and many fear for their lives. We understand these concerns, and at this moment, they must be weighed against the additional protections masks can provide from transmission and exposure to COVID. We encourage you to wear one.
Everyone who participates in protests or demonstrations should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone with symptoms should be tested right away. People without symptoms who believe they were exposed to someone with COVID-19 may want to seek testing seven days after they believe they were exposed. That allows people to learn if they are positive early in their infection. However, some people may not have enough virus to be detected or cause symptoms for up to 14 days after their exposure. For that reason, people who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 should minimize their contact with others for 14 days after exposure, even if they test negative before the two full weeks have passed. You can find a map of community testing sites here. You can also consider a telehealth visit or nurseline advice before seeking in-person care.
People of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
They may be more likely to be exposed to the virus in essential jobs; are more likely to have limited access to affordable health care, childcare, and transportation; are more likely to live in neighborhoods with high air pollution rates; and are more likely to face unsanitary conditions in prisons, jails, and detention centers. Due to these types of inequities, people of color face chronic disease health disparities, leaving them with a higher risk of dying due to COVID-19.
Racism is a threat to public health.
We stand with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and agree that racism is an ongoing public health crisis that needs our attention now. “We see discrimination every day in all aspects of life, including housing, education, the criminal justice system and employment. And it is amplified during this pandemic as communities of color face inequities in everything from a greater burden of COVID-19 cases to less access to testing, treatment and care.” - APHA