FAQs: Protests & COVID-19

In recent days, community members joined protests locally and across the country in response to the death of George Floyd and so many black lives that have been taken through senseless, violent and racist acts. This racism and hate comes on top of the stress, burden and illness being inequitably experienced by Blacks, Indigenous, Latino and other people of color during the pandemic, the result of centuries of systemic racism.

We understand the difficult choices that people were faced with in the past week. Many in our community grappled with attending protests to stand up against these injustices while also wanting to keep our community safe from further spread of COVID-19.

For people who have attended protests or large gatherings, we’ve provided some answers to questions about the protests and the spread of COVID-19.

Q: If people chose to attend a protest, then there are steps to take to help lower the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our community?
A: Outdoor gatherings are lower risk than indoor gatherings. The larger the gathering, and the longer you’re there, the higher the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
People who have been at group gatherings should monitor their health for 14 days afterwards. Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested right away, whether they’ve been at a protest or not.

Remember that physical distancing and other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 are not all-or-nothing – even if you attended large group gatherings, it’s just as important that you continue to stay home whenever possible, remain at least 6 feet away from others and wear a face covering when in public, wash your hands, and avoid touching your face.

Q: Do people who have attended protests need to get tested for COVID-19?
A: If you currently don’t have any symptoms, you do not need to get tested right now. However, if you develop even mild symptoms such as a cough, congestion or runny nose, shortness of breath, or a fever, you should contact your health-care provider to help evaluate symptoms and your need for testing.

Anyone who has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 should also be tested.

If you would like to register for free testing go to: https://mcphdredcap.hhcorp.org/surveys/?s=A4F4NY3PDH, or if you have other medical questions related to COVID-19, call our info line at: 317-221-5500.

Q: During protests, what should I consider about how to protect myself and our community?
A: 

  • Do not attend any gatherings or protests if you are ill or have symptoms of COVID-19. And, remember that COVID-19 can spread from people who do not have symptoms as well as from those who do.
  • Wear a cloth mask or face covering. This helps protects those around you, and others wear face coverings to help protect you.
  • Stay 6 feet or more away from others.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it often.
  • Avoid touching objects and surfaces that others have touched.
  • Do your best to avoid situations where people are shouting or singing, as these activities can spread more virus into the air.

Q: What are the ways to reduce risk of exposure when traveling to an event?
A: The Marion County Public Health Department continues to recommend that people stay home as much as possible. If you must go out, walking, biking, or driving alone in a personal vehicle are the best travel options to reduce risk of COVID-19. However, these options are not available to everyone. If you need to drive multiple people in a private vehicle, here are tips to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission:

  • Ensure everyone in the car wears a mask.
  • Limit the number of people in the car to as few as possible.
  • Maintain distance between people as much as possible. Ask passengers to sit in the back to create physical distance.
  • Keep tissues and hand sanitizer in your car.
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Increase airflow by putting the windows down.
  • Do not recirculate air.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces before and after the trip, especially if you borrowed the car or are giving someone a lift. Play close attention to surfaces that are touched often by passengers, such as door handles, arm rests, steering wheels, gear shifters, commonly-used buttons, and seatbelts.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If you’re using public transportation, remember to wear a face covering, enter through the back door, maintain 6-feet of distance between yourself and other passengers, and reserve the front for passengers in need of priority seating.

Q: How do we collectively support emotional health in this difficult time?
A: This is an extremely difficult time for many, and may place a particular burden on Black people in our community. Tending to the emotional and mental health needs of your community and yourself are an important part of public health, especially now. Witnessing this trauma repeatedly effects mental health, especially for communities of color. Check-up on friends, family and community, as well as checking in with yourself.

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