As thousands continue to come together for a second week of protests against police brutality, Los Angeles County’s health director urged protesters to self-quarantine and get tested for the coronavirus Monday.
“We’re still in the midst of a pandemic,” health director Barbara Ferrer said. “COVID-19 remains easy to transmit… Every single social interaction that happens outside your household comes with risk to both the people who interact.”
L.A. County reported 823 new coronavirus cases and another 10 deaths attributed to the respiratory illness Monday, bringing the countywide total to 64,644 with 2,655 deaths.
Here’s what protestors need to know:
Those who believe they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus because they weren’t able to keep at least 6 feet away from others who weren’t wearing masks should self-quarantine for 14 days — the whole coronavirus incubation period, Ferrer said.
And while quarantining, residents should be particularly careful to protect loved ones who may be at risk for more serious illness because of their age or underlying health conditions. That means not sharing bedding and wearing masks at home.
If no symptoms develop after the 14-day period, “you’re very unlikely to develop the virus,” she said.
The health director said those exposed should get tested, especially if they have underlying health conditions. But she warned that results might be misleading for those who get tested right away.
“A negative test does not mean that you won’t go on to develop COVID-19 over the course of the 14 days,” Ferrer said.
And while more businesses are given the green light to reopen, Ferrer said that it’s not just going to protests that puts people at risk of contracting the virus.
“Being part of a protest is really no different than having an exposure at an indoor mall or even at a restaurant or at the beach. In all of these sites,” she said.
So, for those who are in any place where there are others, the advice remains the same: Cover your face and try your best keep at least 6 feet away from others.
How mass gatherings affect contact tracing
Though contracting the coronavirus is still a risk at any location, protesters shouldn’t expect to get a call warning them about a potential exposure at one of the large demonstrations.
“You could get an exposure and it will not come through a contact tracing system,” Ferrer said. “Nobody knows that you were there, nobody has your name, we can’t call you.”
Because of this, Ferrer said, it’s important to quarantine for 14 days right after a potential exposure.
There are thousands of people employed in L.A. County to alert people when they’ve been exposed to others who test positive for the virus, but it all depends on whether their contact information is available, like in a restaurant or hair salon’s appointment reservations log.
Health officials have warned that new infections wouldn’t show up in the county’s coronavirus case counts for weeks.