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13 Jun, 2020 03:08

CDC reminds every public event is Covid-19 risk… after weeks of mass protests & just as Trump is set to hold own rally

CDC reminds every public event is Covid-19 risk… after weeks of mass protests & just as Trump is set to hold own rally

The CDC has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over and that states may be forced to reintroduce lockdowns – just as President Trump prepares to resume his campaign rallies after weeks of crowded protests nationwide.

“If cases begin to go up again, particularly if they go up dramatically, it’s important to recognize that more mitigation efforts such as what were implemented back in March may be needed again,” the health agency’s deputy director for infectious diseases, Jay Butler, told reporters on Friday.

Every activity that involves interacting with others has some degree of risk right now… It’s important to remember the situation is unprecedented and the pandemic is ongoing.

With dozens of localities cautiously lifting sweeping lockdown policies imposed in March to contain the virus, some states have already seen a resurgence in cases and hospitalizations, among them North Carolina, Arizona and Texas.

The spike comes on the heels of packed street protests over police brutality in hundreds of American cities, seeing thousands of demonstrators gather in close proximity since late May, disregarding social distancing guidelines. Although CDC Director Robert Redfield issued a delayed warning last week that the protests could be a “seeding event” for Covid-19, mainstream press coverage of the demonstrations largely ignored the virus threat, despite overwhelmingly negative and hectoring treatment of anti-lockdown protests just months prior.

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But as US President Donald Trump prepares to hold his own campaign rally, the first since the pandemic took hold in the country, the CDC has issued a new guidance for mass gatherings, “strongly” encouraging participants to don masks and take other precautions. Pressed by reporters to specify whether the advice applied to political rallies, presumably with the president in mind, Butler would only say that the recommendations are “not commands.”

The organizers of the Trump rally, set for Tulsa, Oklahoma next week, have asked attendees to sign a waiver acknowledging that “an inherent risk of exposure to Covid-19 exists in any public place where people are present” and to agree not to hold the campaign liable for any “illness or injury” that may result. In stark contrast to the George Floyd protests, the upcoming rally has already generated a spate of negative headlines, suggesting the event will expose thousands to the virus and drive a surge in cases.

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The US topped 2 million cases of the coronavirus earlier this week, counting more than 114,000 fatalities in total since the outbreak began, with Butler warning the figure could soar to 130,000 by July. Worldwide, the virus has infected some 7.6 million people and killed over 425,000. While some areas in the US, Europe and Asia have seen a downward trend in cases and deaths, the pathogen is rapidly spreading through South America, which the World Health Organization has dubbed the world’s next major epicenter for the illness.

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