Officials worry George Floyd protests could cause new coronavirus outbreaks

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The mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of U.S. cities hit by massive protests in recent days, has a message for demonstrators: “If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week.”

As emergency orders are lifted and beaches and businesses reopen, add protests to the list of concerns about a possible second wave of coronavirus outbreaks. It’s also an issue from Paris to Hong Kong, where anti-government protesters accuse police of using social distancing rules to break up their rallies.

Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus who have no symptoms could unwittingly infect others at gatherings with people packed cheek to jowl and cheering and jeering, many without masks.

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“Whether they’re fired up or not that doesn’t prevent them from getting the virus,” said Bradley Pollock, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis.

One Atlanta protester said she has no choice following the death last Monday of George Floyd, a Black man, after a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed a knee into his neck.

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